Utricularia-algae-zooplankton feedback

From Anarchy In Action
Utricularia aurea 8 Darwiniana.jpg

Utricularia are a genus of carnivorous marine plants covered in algae. Zooplankton eat the algae, and the Utricularia suck in the zooplankton, through bladder traps, and consume them. The biologist Robert Ulanowicz describes the relationship between Utricularia, algae and zooplankton as an example of autocatalysis, meaning "a particular form of positive feedback wherein the effect of every consecutive link in the feedback loop is positive."

  • The more zooplankton that the plant consumes, the more it grows.
  • The more the plant grows, the more algae-covered surface there is for zooplankton to eat.
  • The more algae-covered surface there is, the more zooplankton there is for the plant to consume.[1]
  1. Robert Ulanowicz, A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin (West Conshohocken: Templeton Foundation Press, 2009), 64-7.