Contrasting patterns of fig wasp communities along Mt. Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea

Daniel Souto-Vilarós, Mickal Houadria, Jan Michalek, Mentap Sisol, Brus Isua, Thomas Kuyaiva, George D. Weiblen, Vojtech Novotny, Simon T. Segar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The fig (Moraceae) and pollinating fig wasp (Agaonidae) mutualism is best known as a model system for the study of coevolution in plant–pollinator interactions and its central role in shaping vertebrate communities in tropical forests. Figs also host myriad antagonistic parasitic fig wasps which impose costs on both partners threatening mutualism stability. Spatiotemporal variation in parasitic wasp abundance is a key factor in mitigating these effects. Because fig wasps are temperature sensitive and likely vary in their ability to traverse environmental gradients, we expect community assemblages and abundance of both pollinating and non-pollinating fig wasps to respond to changes along an elevational gradient. In the present study, we compare the fig wasp communities and abundance of three fig species growing along the slopes of the Mount Wilhelm altitudinal gradient in Papua New Guinea. We quantified wasps from over 100 male fig trees and calculated seed set for 55 female trees along each of the species’ distribution on the transect. Our results show that the abundance of both pollinating and non-pollinating fig wasps follow a mid-elevation peak, consistent with fig species richness found in the same transect. The patterns, however, are different according to the host's species distribution. Seed set remained relatively constant along the gradient for all species with some decrease along higher elevations, potentially affecting connectivity along the gradient. As suggested for insects in general, temperature and habitat diversity appear to play a fundamental role in the species richness and abundance of fig wasps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-334
Number of pages12
JournalBiotropica
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank villagers from all collecting sites for both providing local assistants and offering us accommodation during our stay along the transect. We also would like to think all staff of the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre in Papua New Guinea and the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute and Department of Environment and Conservation for help granting export permits. We would like to thank Alexandra Pruchova, Inga Freiberga, Katerina Puzejova, Klara Kopicova, Lucie Houdkova, Michaela Uhrova, Pavlina Hajkova, and Radka Jungova for their help dissecting figs. We thank two anonymous reviewers, the handling and associate editors, for constructive criticism for the improvement of this manuscript. We acknowledge funding from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (grant number 15‐24571S). STS acknowledges departmental support from Harper Adams University.

Funding Information:
We thank villagers from all collecting sites for both providing local assistants and offering us accommodation during our stay along the transect. We also would like to think all staff of the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre in Papua New Guinea and the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute and Department of Environment and Conservation for help granting export permits. We would like to thank Alexandra Pruchova, Inga Freiberga, Katerina Puzejova, Klara Kopicova, Lucie Houdkova, Michaela Uhrova, Pavlina Hajkova, and Radka Jungova for their help dissecting figs. We thank two anonymous reviewers, the handling and associate editors, for constructive criticism for the improvement of this manuscript. We acknowledge funding from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (grant number 15-24571S). STS acknowledges departmental support from Harper Adams University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

Keywords

  • Ficus
  • altitudinal gradient
  • non-pollinating fig wasps
  • pollination
  • seed set

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