Plant evolutionary ecology
The leaves of Darlingtonia californica are among the strangest of all plants. Although many of the leaf's features are putative adaptations enabling the trapping of insect prey, they may serve alternative purposes. Using field and lab experiments, I tested alternative adaptive hypotheses for D. californica's "forked tongue" appendage and window-like fenestrae. In addition, I found that bacteria can alter the rheological properties of a pitcher's fluid to facilitate prey retention (see video below).
In the future, I plan to expand these types of studies to old-world pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.) to investigate whether this speciose group has undergone parallel convergent radiations on a number of Southeast Asian islands.