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C R Biol. 2003 Jan;326(1):121-30.

Dispersal and fighting in male pollinating fig wasps.

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Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa.


For more than two decades, it has been the dogma that the males of pollinating fig wasps do not fight and that they only mate in their native fig. Their extreme degree of local mating leads to highly female biased sex ratios that should eliminate the benefits of fighting and dispersal by males. Furthermore, males sharing a fig are often brothers, and fighting may be barred by kin selection. Therefore, theory supported the presumed absence of fighting and dispersal in pollinating fig wasp males. However, we report here that in pollinating fig wasps, fighting between brothers evolved at least four and possibly six time, and dispersal by males at least twice. This finding supports the idea that competition between relatives can cancel the ameliorating effects of relatedness. The explanation to this evolutionary puzzle, as well as the consequences of male dispersal and fighting, opens the doors to exciting new research.

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