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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Jun 7;268(1472):1113-21.

Pollination mode in fig wasps: the predictive power of correlated traits.

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  • 1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, 1919 route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier CĂ©dex 5, France.


The over 700 species of Ficus are thought to have co-speciated with their obligate pollinators (family Agaonidae). Some of these wasp species pollinate figs actively, while others are passive pollinators. Based on direct observations of mode of pollination in 88 species, we show that mode of pollination can confidently be predicted from fig traits only (anther-to-ovule ratio) or from wasp traits only (presence of coxal combs). The presence of pollen pockets is not a predictor of mode of pollination. Data, direct and indirect, on 142 species, demonstrate numerous cases of the loss of active pollination and suggest one or few origins of active pollination. Hence, active pollination, an impressive example of the sophisticated traits that may result from mutualistic coevolution, depends on selective forces that can be overcome in some species, allowing reversions. Despite frequent loss, active pollination remains the predominant mode of pollination in Ficus.

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