Effects of forest fragmentation on Ficus adhatodifolia Schott ex Spreng phenology and on its interactions with wasps

Abstract

Forest fragmentation can reduce population size, affecting the plant species and their biological interactions. We evaluated the effects of fragmentation on Ficus adhatodifolia Schott ex Spreng population, aiming to answer two questions: (1) is population size sufficient to maintain reproductive fig trees throughout the year? (2) Is the mean seed production per syconium higher in the larger forest fragments? Fifty-six trees of F. adhatodifolia were visited in a year, in five fragments and one urban area in southern Brazil. Mature syconia were collected and the seed and wasp production between areas were compared. Considering all forest remnants, we recorded syconia production throughout the year, but no fragment exhibited crop production in all months. The pollinator wasps Tetrapus sp. were found in almost all syconium, thus, indicating that Ficus-pollinator mutualism was not lost. Nevertheless, smaller fragments were not capable of maintaining reproductive individuals throughout the year, therefore, requiring pollinator wasps from other fragments. The size of fragments did not influence seed production [LRT P value = 0.1; LR stat (χ2) = 4.64; n = 370]. Factors such as Ficus resilience and pollinating wasp migration may have contributed to the support of mutualism so far. Therefore, in highly fragmented landscapes such as the study region, the conservation of all forest remnants is essential to mutualistic interaction preservation. This procedure combined with the restoration of degraded areas determined by law are urgent and necessary for the conservation of regional biodiversity.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior and Fundação Araucária for the PELD-MANP Grant (process number 441540/2016-3). This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES)—Brazil—Finance Code 001 (research grants and fellowship to LFFP). The authors also thank all the help received from Laboratório de Biologia Reprodutiva de Ficus, from Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto—USP, especially to Rodrigo A. S. Pereira and Fernando Farache.

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Correspondence to Edmilson Bianchini.

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Pol, L.F.F., Pires, H.H., da Silva Ribeiro, J.E.L. et al. Effects of forest fragmentation on Ficus adhatodifolia Schott ex Spreng phenology and on its interactions with wasps. Trop Ecol 60, 462–471 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42965-019-00049-6

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Keywords

  • Fig
  • Mutualism
  • Neotropical forest
  • Pollinators
  • Population
  • Syconia