Pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation among dioecious fig species (Ficus, moraceae)

Annika M. Moe, George D. Weiblen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The extent of isolation among closely related sympatric plant species engaged in obligate pollination mutualisms depends on the fitness consequences of interspecies floral visitation. In figs (Ficus), interspecific gene flow may occur when pollinating wasps (Agaonidae) visit species other than their natal fig species. We studied reproductive isolation in a clade of six sympatric dioecious fig species in New Guinea. Microsatellite genotyping and Bayesian clustering analysis of the fig community indicated strong reproductive barriers among sympatric species. A total of 1-2% of fig populations consisted of hybrid individuals. A new experimental method of manipulating fig wasps investigated the reproductive consequences of conspecific and heterospecific pollinator visitation for both mutualists. Fig wasps introduced to Ficus hispidioides pollinated and oviposited in receptive figs. Seed development and seedling growth were largely comparable between conspecific and heterospecific crosses. Heterospecific pollinator fitness, however, was significantly less than that of conspecific pollinators. Heterospecific pollinators induced gall formation but offspring did not develop to maturity in the new host. Selection on pollinators maintaining host specificity appears to be an important mechanism of contemporary reproductive isolation among these taxa that could potentially influence their diversification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3710-3721
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Ceratosolen
  • Coevolution
  • Hybridization
  • Speciation


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