Tuning of color contrast signals to visual sensitivity maxima of tree shrews by three Bornean highland Nepenthes species

Plant Signal Behav. 2012 Oct 1;7(10):1267-70. doi: 10.4161/psb.21661. Epub 2012 Aug 20.


Three species of Nepenthes pitcher plants (Nepenthes rajah, Nepenthes lowii and Nepenthes macrophylla) specialize in harvesting nutrients from tree shrew excreta in their pitchers. In all three species, nectaries on the underside of the pitcher lid are the focus of the tree shrews' attention. Tree shrews are dichromats, with visual sensitivity in the blue and green wavebands. All three Nepenthes species were shown to produce visual signals, in which the underside of the pitcher lid (the area of highest nectar production) stood out in high contrast to the adjacent area on the pitcher (i.e., was brighter), in the blue and green wavebands visible to the tree shrews. N. rajah showed the tightest degree of "tuning," notably in the green waveband. Conversely, pitchers of Nepenthes burbidgeae, a typical insectivorous species sympatric with N. rajah, did not produce a color pattern tuned to tree shrew sensitivity maxima.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Area Under Curve
  • Borneo
  • Color
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Sarraceniaceae / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tupaiidae / physiology*