Fig pollination is a well-known example of obligate mutualism involving specialized fig wasps (Hymenoptera, Agaonidae) and Ficus (Moraceae). However, pollination is poorly understood in Castilleae, the recently identified sister group to Ficus. Here we report the first record of thrips pollination in a member of the paleotropical Castilleae. We used phenological measurements, insect trapping, and pollinator exclusion experiments to investigate the mode of pollination in Antiaropsis decipiens, a monotypic dioecious tree of lowland rainforests in New Guinea. We recorded a new species, described here as Thrips antiaropsidis (Thysanoptera, Thripidae), feeding on Antiaropsis pollen, breeding in the staminate inflorescences, and pollinating the carpellate inflorescences. It appears that thrips are lured from staminate to carpellate inflorescences by deceit. We combine these observations with evidence from the Neotropical Castilleae to suggest that thrips pollination may be common in the sister group to figs. We speculate that entomophily in the common ancestor of Ficus and Castilleae predated the origin of the fig pollination mutualism.
- Pollination by deceit
- Reproductive ecology