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Variation in reproductive output of Ficus superba despite aseasonal reproduction

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Studies of Ficus reproductive phenology have focused on documenting its seasonality and dependence on meteorological factors. While there have been reports that duration of receptivity of syconia can be prolonged in response to pollinator limitation, the effect of pollination rate on the duration of phenological phases over a year has not been examined. Percentage of unpollinated syconia, number of foundresses per pollinated syconium, duration of receptivity, frequency of single-sex broods, crop size, frequency of parasitisation, persistence of ripe syconia, and mass abscission were recorded for Ficus superba at the crop level. Percentage of unpollinated syconia is significantly negatively correlated with the number of foundresses per syconium, and positively correlated with the duration of receptivity, and the persistence of ripe syconia. Despite the absence of sesonality in reproduction, the occurrences of receptive syconia and ripe syconia showed unimodal and bimodal peaks, respectively, owing to prolongment of these phases. This is attributable to meteorological factors, which are hypothesized to influence pollinator dispersal, or population dynamics, and thus pollination rate. This highlights the overlooked significance of pollinator, and possibly frugivore phenology in accounting for Ficus reproduction, and suggests that while reproduction may be aseasonal, reproductive potential may not be. Furthermore, crop size was shown to affect the number of foundresses per syconium, duration of receptivity, and persistence of ripe syconia. Possible adaptive value of producing crops of different sizes is discussed.

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We would like to thank Dr Rhett D. Harrison for sharing his expertise in identifying the fig wasps, and to express our gratitude to Dr Richard T. Corlett and Dr Von Bing Yap for having provided useful criticisms and suggestions. Ms Sharon Sim also deserves thanks for the generous field assistance rendered. We would also like to thank anonymous reviewers for making specific suggestions to allow us to improve the clarity and content of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chow Khoon Yeo.

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Yeo, C.K., Tan, H.T.W. Variation in reproductive output of Ficus superba despite aseasonal reproduction. Plant Ecol 205, 235 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9613-4

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  • Crop size
  • Fig phenology
  • Pollination rate
  • Reproduction
  • Seasonality