Graduation Date

Fall 2017

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Biology

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Michael Camann

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Erik Jules

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Michael Mesler

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

Dr. Edward Metz

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



The California pitcher plant, Darlingtonia californica, provides a unique setting to research community ecology because it harbors small ponds of water, or phytotelmata, in its modified leaves. Each phytotelma hosts a unique community of various invertebrates who live among carcasses of drowned plant prey. These pitchers and their inquiline communities are relatively small yet abundant in the wild, resulting in an ideal natural setup for community composition comparisons. There have been no previous studies that research D. californica inquiline communities across multiple geographic regions concurrently. This study sought to survey phytotelma communities throughout the range of D. californica at three spatial scales- regions (the largest geographic scale), fens (a more localized scale), and pitchers (the smallest scale). Community composition metrics were calculated to compare richness, evenness, diversity, and abundance among the four regions. Seven taxa and 14,358 individuals were recorded in the 93 pitchers sampled in National Forests throughout southern Oregon and northern California. Non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination showed slight groupings of samples within regions. Community composition of pitchers was more similar within regions than between regions and within fens than between fens. Statistical analyses showed that region predicted variance between pitchers, and that all of the paired combinations of regions were significantly different from one another except for the two highest elevation regions. Further tests showed some significant differences in individual species’ abundance between regions, but not in univariate community composition metrics. The D. californica phytotelma communities were then compared to those of other pitcher plant species.

Citation Style