The John H. Ostrom Program Series

At Play in the Garden of Eating: Insights from Carnivorous Plants and the Ants They Eat

With Aaron M. Ellison

Thursday, November 14 at 5:30 pm

Free admission

Book signing to follow


For nearly 20 years, Aaron M. Ellison (Yale ‘82) of Harvard University’s Harvard Forest has studied the ecology of carnivorous plants and the ants they eat. This research inspired his most recent book, A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (Yale University Press, 2012), co-authored with Nicholas Gotelli, Elizabeth Farnsworth and Gary Alpert, which documents the incredible diversity of ants in our region.

The pools within our native pitcher plant hold a complex micro-ecosystem. Mirroring Khalil Gibran’s insight that “in one drop of water are found all the secrets of the oceans,” these tiny pools have revealed novel interactions between plants and ants, new ideas about tipping points in lakes and ponds, and improved indicators of environmental change. Ellison’s illustrated talk takes us on a journey to New England’s bogs and fens where we can find more than 40 species of ants and nearly 20 different kinds of carnivorous plants. We’ll learn, too, just how ants survive in these ever-wet boggy environments inhabited by ant-eating plants.