Coevolution of reproductive characteristics in three dioecious fig species and their pollinator wasps

Abstract

This study investigates dioecious fig species using a pollinator introduction experiment. Our aims were to determine: (1) whether there was a significant difference in foundress distribution between sexes per fig species; (2) whether fig size and foundress number affect reproductive success of dioecious figs; and (3) who is the ‘controlling partner’ in the fig/pollinator mutualism. Three dioecious fig species: Ficus semicordata, Ficus hispida and Ficus tinctoria from Xishuangbanna, China, were selected for this experiment. We found that there was no significant difference of the foundress number in female and male figs of F. semicordata, F. hispida and F. tinctoria. Also, the foundress number did not depend on the fig diameter. The numbers and the proportions of fig seeds and female wasp offspring significantly increased with more foundresses; and fig seed number was significantly higher than female wasp offspring in F. semicordata and F. hispida, but not in F. tinctoria. Our results indicate that figs are generally the ‘controlling partner’ in fig-wasp mutualisms in species with large figs, but not with small figs. Compared with published studies of reproductive success in monoecious figs, the dioecious figs seem to be more efficient in producing both seeds and wasp offspring when there is a high number of foundress.

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Correspondence to Da-R. Yang.

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Ma, W.J., Peng, Y.Q., Yang, D. et al. Coevolution of reproductive characteristics in three dioecious fig species and their pollinator wasps. Symbiosis 49, 87 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13199-009-0018-x

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Keywords

  • Dioecious figs
  • female wasp offspring
  • seeds
  • foundress distribution
  • reproduction success