Title

Maintenance of Mutualism in a Neotropical Fig: Ficus Pertusa and Its Wasp Symbionts

Presenter

Asa Mease

Abstract

The maintenance of mutualism is poorly understood. As each member seeks to maximize its individual fitness, a coevolutionary arms race can alter the dynamics of the symbiotic relationship. Four hypotheses posit the maintenance of fig-fig wasp mutualism in the face of a generational discrepancy between the two organisms: 1. Ovipositor length, 2. Parasitic wasp competition, 3. Optimal foraging, and 4. Unbeatable seeds. I evaluated these hypotheses for the Neotropical fig species, Ficus pertusa. Even with the ability to access all ovules, both the pollinator and non-pollinator wasp species inhabit the same long-pedicelled ovule stratum—thus avoiding oviposition in ovules close to the syconium wall that become seeds. In light of this data I reject the parasite-mediated and ovipositor-limited hypotheses of mutualism maintenance. I also found high variation between individual trees of F. pertusa in foundress numbers, distribution, and resource partitioning by the host.

Faculty Sponsor

Susanne Altermann

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Poster Session

Location

Cordiner Hall

Presentation Type

Poster

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Apr 19th, 1:00 PM Apr 19th, 2:00 PM

Maintenance of Mutualism in a Neotropical Fig: Ficus Pertusa and Its Wasp Symbionts

Cordiner Hall

The maintenance of mutualism is poorly understood. As each member seeks to maximize its individual fitness, a coevolutionary arms race can alter the dynamics of the symbiotic relationship. Four hypotheses posit the maintenance of fig-fig wasp mutualism in the face of a generational discrepancy between the two organisms: 1. Ovipositor length, 2. Parasitic wasp competition, 3. Optimal foraging, and 4. Unbeatable seeds. I evaluated these hypotheses for the Neotropical fig species, Ficus pertusa. Even with the ability to access all ovules, both the pollinator and non-pollinator wasp species inhabit the same long-pedicelled ovule stratum—thus avoiding oviposition in ovules close to the syconium wall that become seeds. In light of this data I reject the parasite-mediated and ovipositor-limited hypotheses of mutualism maintenance. I also found high variation between individual trees of F. pertusa in foundress numbers, distribution, and resource partitioning by the host.