J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2005, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (2): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2005.00034.x

• Research Articles •    

Seasonal Changes in the Trade-off Among Fig-supported Wasps and Viable Seeds in Figs and Their Evolutionary Implications

Rui-Wu WANG, Jun-Xing YANG and Da-Rong YANG   

Abstract: What the real trade-off is among fig-supported wasps and the viable seeds of figs is heatedly debated in the studies of fig/fig wasp mutualism. In the present study, we collected wasp offspring (galls) and the viable seeds of premature fruits, and determined the foundress number in receptive fruits and all the types of wasps supported by Ficus racemosa L. during both the rainy and dry seasons in Xishuangbanna, China. The data show that the galls were positively correlated with viable seeds (n = 32; r = 0.74; P < 0.001) when the proportion of vacant female flowers (PVFF) was high, in April (68.0%), and were negatively correlated with viable seeds (n = 48; r = – 0.59; P < 0.05) when PVFF were limited (PVFF = 42.6%) during a colder month (January). The mean foundress number per fruit during the colder months is significantly lower than during the warmer months (F5, 603 = 27.9; P < 0.001) and pollinator wasps can live longer during the colder months. During the colder months, the proportions of non-pollinators and wasp offspring are higher than those found during other months, whereas the proportion of viable seeds is not different compared with that of other months. Non-pollinator wasps tend to oviposit the female flowers that have been oviposited by pollinator wasps. The non-pollinators only negatively affect pollinator wasps and there is no obvious negative effect of non-pollinator wasps on viable seeds, so ovipositing by non-pollinator wasps will not result in the extinction of the figs during the process of evolution. The results of the present study indicate that figs can allow less foundresses to be in fruit cavities when PVFF are limited, which provides supporting evidence for the previous assumption that the plants have developed a mechanism to maintain a stable system because of the conflicts between the parties involved.

Key words: Ficus racemosa L., mutualism, non-pollinator, pollinator, seasonal change, trade-off, Xishuangbanna.

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