, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 77–83 | Cite as

Seasonal change in the structure of fig-wasp community and its implication for conservation

  • Rui-Wu WangEmail author
  • Baa-Fa Sun


Figs (Moraceae) and their pollinating wasps (Agaonidae) constitute a famous reciprocal mutualism in which figs provide some female flowers for the development of fig wasp offspring while the fig wasps pollinate fig flowers. However, figs also host many non-pollinating wasps which are either parasitoids or resource competitors of pollinators, and bring no benefit for figs and are detrimental to fig’ fitness. Our data onFicus racemosa in Xishuangbanna showed that the numbers of non-pollinators and the mature syconia without pollinator wasps increase in rainy season, especially in the highly fragmented forest. This might be because of the longer developing time of the syconia and thereby longer oviposition time to non-pollinators in the dry season. The galled flower and the viable seed percentages in dry seasons are also larger than in rainy seasons in both primary forest and fragmented forest, and the development of non-pollinators is mainly at the expense of pollinator wasps. Our results showed that there exists a discriminative seasonal impact of non-pollinators and fragmentation effects on population size of fig’s pollinators. This implies that fig/fig wasp mutualism is more fragile in dry season, and that the critical population size and breeding units of figs in seasonal area might be larger than previously estimated without considering the seasonal change of pollinator population.


Fig tropical rain forest seasonal change community structure mutualism conservation 


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© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kunming Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesKunming, YunnanChina
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentShantou UniversityShantou, GuangdongChina

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