TITLE

Competitive Exclusion among Fig Wasps Achieved via Entrainment of Host Plant Flowering Phenology

AUTHOR(S)
Liu, Min; Zhao, Rui; Chen, Yan; Zhang, Jian; Compton, Stephen G.; Chen, Xiao-Yong
PUB. DATE
May 2014
SOURCE
PLoS ONE;May2014, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Molecular techniques are revealing increasing numbers of morphologically similar but co-existing cryptic species, challenging the niche theory. To understand the co-existence mechanism, we studied phenologies of morphologically similar species of fig wasps that pollinate the creeping fig (F. pumila) in eastern China. We compared phenologies of fig wasp emergence and host flowering at sites where one or both pollinators were present. At the site where both pollinators were present, we used sticky traps to capture the emerged fig wasps and identified species identity using mitochondrial DNA COI gene. We also genotyped F. pumila individuals of the three sites using polymorphic microsatellites to detect whether the host populations were differentiated. Male F. pumila produced two major crops annually, with figs receptive in spring and summer. A small partial third crop of receptive figs occurred in the autumn, but few of the second crop figs matured at that time. Hence, few pollinators were available to enter third crop figs and they mostly aborted, resulting in two generations of pollinating wasps each year, plus a partial third generation. Receptive figs were produced on male plants in spring and summer, timed to coincide with the release of short-lived adult pollinators from the same individual plants. Most plants were pollinated by a single species. Plants pollinated by Wiebesia sp. 1 released wasps earlier than those pollinated by Wiebesia sp. 3, with little overlap. Plants occupied by different pollinators were not spatially separated, nor genetically distinct. Our findings show that these differences created mismatches with the flight periods of the other Wiebesia species, largely ‘reserving’ individual plants for the resident pollinator species. This pre-emptive competitive displacement may prevent long term co-existence of the two pollinators.
ACCESSION #
96283725

 

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