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Detecting the elusive cost of parasites on fig seed production

Segar, Simon T.; Mardiastuti, Ani; Wheeler, Philip M. and Cook, James M. (2018). Detecting the elusive cost of parasites on fig seed production. Acta Oecologica, 90 pp. 69–74.

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Mutualisms provide essential ecosystem functions such as pollination and contribute considerably to global biodiversity. However, they are also exploited by parasites that remove resources and thus impose costs on one or both of the mutualistic partners. The fig/pollinator interaction is a classic obligate mutualism; it is pantropical and involves >750 Ficus species and their host-specific pollinating wasps (family Agaonidae). Figs also host parasites of the mutualism that should consume pollinators or seeds, depending on their larval ecology. We collected data from a large crop of figs on Ficus glandifera var. brachysyce in a Sulawesi rainforest with an unusually high number of Eukoebelea sp. parasites. We found that these parasites have a significant negative correlation with fig seed production as well as with pollinator offspring production. Eukoebelea wasps form the basal genus in subfamily Sycophaginae (Chalcidoidea) and their larval biology is considered unknown. Our analysis suggests that they feed as flower gallers and impose direct costs on the fig tree, but a strategy including the consumption of pollinator larvae cannot be ruled out. We also present baseline data on the composition of the fig wasp community associated with F. glandifera var brachysyce and light trap catch data.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2018 Elsevier Masson SAS
ISSN: 1146-609X
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNot SetNERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Not SetNot SetBBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)
Operation Wallacea Ltd. KTP (transfer in)Not SetUniversity of Hull
Not SetNot SetUniversity of Reading
Not SetNot SetIndonesian State Ministry for Research and Technology (RISTEK)
Keywords: conflict; costs; Ficus; Mutualism; parasites; pollination
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 55052
Depositing User: Philip Wheeler
Date Deposited: 21 May 2018 09:18
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 21:01
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