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Using its snap traps, which are only a few millimeters in size, the waterwheel plant catches prey animals that live underwater. The traps snap shut within about 20 milliseconds of mechanical stimulation. The basic trapping principle of the waterwheel plant is the same as the terrestrial Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). However, the two types differ not only with regard to the mediums in which they live, that is water and air respectively, but also in the size, rapidity and movement mechanics of their traps. The researchers believe it is important to establish whether the plants have adapted to catching special types of prey, in order to better understand their ecology and evolution. This knowledge is also key to possible conservation measures, because increasing loss of suitable habitat is threatening the waterwheel plant with extinction.
The scientists undertook comparative analyses of the prey composition of a total of eight different populations of the waterwheel plant in Germany and the Czech Republic. This showed that the prey's mode of locomotion is irrelevant to Aldrovanda, because besides...
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