Figs and wasps relationship questions

Are there really dead wasps in your figs? | MNN - Mother Nature Network

figs and wasps relationship questions

The female fig wasp enters the male fig ― we don't eat the male figs, by the way ― to Click here to visit our frequently asked questions about HTML5 video. If You Want A Better Relationship In The New Year, Read This. Fig trees and fig wasps are partners in life, but sometimes the trees betray their closest allies. Shanahan shows how the fig tree and the wasp have coevolved into a below, it's a good way of thinking about our relationship with nature.

They are fig wasp nurseries. The young wasps will grow to adulthood, and even mate with each other, within the syconium. Then the males and females face very different fates. View image of A male Waterstoniella masii emerging from Ficus stupenda Credit: They bite through the syconium, creating an opening for the winged females to fly out. Their purpose completed, the wingless male wasps die, and the syconium ripens into mature, fruit-containing seeds. Meanwhile the female wasps collect pollen from the male flowers, which have just matured.

They stuff the pollen into specialised pollen pockets, located above the abdomen.

figs and wasps relationship questions

The nature of dioecious fig trees creates an evolutionary conflict, one that the fig wasps seem to be losing They then leave in search of another fig syconium. There they will deposit their cargo of pollen, lay eggs, and start another life cycle. Thanks to their short life cycle of just two months, the fig wasps ensure that the fig trees produce fruit all year round. As a result, in rainforests many birds and animals depend on figs for food, making them keystone species that support the entire ecosystem.

By nesting in the figs, the fig wasps indirectly help in maintaining biodiversity and population density. It is a stable partnership that benefits both members, and the wider ecosystem.

New phase proposed in the relationship between figs and wasps | AGÊNCIA FAPESP

But in the case of dioecious fig trees, all bets are off. These trees are far less cooperative. Dioecious fig trees are subtly different to monoecious ones. In particular, their flowers tend to have shorter stalks than those of monoecious species. The wasps can still nest in dioecious trees, but their young can only develop in male flowers The fig wasps have changed along with them.

Morphological data shows that wasps pollinating monoecious figs tend to have long ovipositors, while those that pollinate dioecious figs have short ovipositors.

Dioecy evolved much more recently, as did the altered wasps.

figs and wasps relationship questions

Fossil fig wasps have been found in England that date from 34 million years ago. They have short ovipositors that are almost indistinguishable from those of modern species associated with dioecious figs. The D phase occurs at the end of larval incubation. This is also when the male flowers start to mature, opening up to expose pollen containers known as anthers. The male penetrates the female with a telescopic penis and fertilizes the female inside the gall.

You'll Never Be Able To Unlearn What Figs Are | HuffPost Life

Once they have mated in this way, the males use their mandibles to bite through the fig wall. They then go out through the hole, fall to the ground and die. Leaving the receptacle through the hole made by their brothers, the fertilized females fly away in search of other fig trees, and the cycle begins again. The E phase consists of seed dispersal. The figs are eaten by monkeys, rodents, bats, peccaries and many other animals.

Almost all forest-dwelling vertebrates feed on figs as part of their diet. F phase Palmieri has now proposed a new phase in addition to the five phases of the classic fig-wasp lifecycle, which has been studied for 50 years.

They manage to insert their eggs into figs without performing the biological role of pollination. These figs were discarded and left out of the research.

New phase proposed in the relationship between figs and wasps | AGÊNCIA FAPESP

In some cases, larvae that were almost the same size as the fig had eaten almost its entire contents. In the article just published, I describe insects belonging to five orders and 24 different families that are not fig wasps but that also interact with figs, performing different functions. Some rely on fallen figs to complete their development. All the insects identified have representatives in both categories except for ten wasp species belonging to three families that are not fig wasps but that bear some resemblance to them.

All ten are early fig interlopers that oviposit in figs and the larvae of which compete directly with those of fig wasps for food and space inside the fig or simply feed on them, leaving the fig when they reach adulthood. In the article, Palmieri describes the modus operandi of several early fig interlopers in detail.

One is Lissocephala, a genus of flies that lay eggs in the ostiole at the same time as the original female wasp is entering the fig. The fly larvae migrate to the interior of the fig and feed exclusively on yeast and bacteria brought inside by the pollinating wasp.

The flies finish their development inside the fig and leave by the exit hole previously chewed in the fig wall by male wasps. Butterflies and moths are the most aggressive group of insects in terms of the damage to figs. They lay eggs in the fig wall. In the C phase, their larvae bore through the fig wall and feed indiscriminately on fig pulp, wasps and seeds.

figs and wasps relationship questions

The larvae destroy the hanging fig and crawl out to pupate in cocoons attached to branches of the tree. In the case of fallen fig fauna, Palmieri explained, the category comprises various organisms that feed on the fleshy parts or seeds of ripe figs not consumed by fruit-eating vertebrates.

They take advantage of the window of opportunity created by the figs that fall under the parent tree in the F phase.

figs and wasps relationship questions

But, speaking of commentary, there is much to be said about what can be done right now to address climate change. With these six books from our Fall issueyou can get the information you need and the knowledge to help. Shanahan shows how the fig tree and the wasp have coevolved into a state of complete interdependence.

Can you, for the record, state whether climate change is real and man-made? The mass of scientific findings made over the past three decades shows very clearly that human activities are raising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that this is raising the global average temperature and changing the climate.

Figs and wasps depend on one another for their existence. Not to be too obvious in our metaphors, but did you choose to focus on figs because of its wider implications for humans and nature? I spent three years studying dozens of wild fig species in Borneo and Papua New Guinea.

I worked in forests where fig trees play a critical role in sustaining a large proportion of the wildlife and the thousands of plant species whose seeds these creatures disperse.

figs and wasps relationship questions

The biology of fig trees was fascinating enough—shaped as it is by an million-year-old partnership with tiny wasps. But when I also learned the many ways fig trees have influenced our own species, I became compelled to write their story. The more I researched, the more these trees amazed me. I firmly believe everyone should know their story, not least because it is linked to every one of us in some way.

It offers a powerful lens through which we can examine our own place in nature, as well as our future and our past.