An ancient love affair
Dr. Michael McLeish
For over 60 million years, long before humans when the Earth’s continents were placed much differently, the survival of a minute wasp and giant forest tree depended on one another. This relationship was so successful that this mutualism has diversified to provide a central role in the survival of birds, primates, bats, and other mammal species, and possibly ancient human populations, in contemporary ecosystems. This relationship adapted to life in the great tropical forests of world, and amazingly in extreme environments such as the Kalahari desert. About 750 species of fig trees, vines, or epiphytes are each pollinated by a specific wasp species that transfers pollen from one flower to another. For this service, figs support the reproduction of the wasp inside the fruit that contains the internalized flowers. The fig wasp mutualism is also a model system for scientific research into key questions in biology such as how one species evolves to become two. However, in this case, two species become four!
This is an ongoing project that started in 2012. Here are few of the 500 specimens of 55 different species we collected on more than 10 000 km of road.
The goal is to build an exhaustive collection of images of each species in order to help identification.
This project is carried out by:
M. McLeish Ph.D. , M. Fougère-Danezan Ph.D.
Yu Fei Ph.D Student.
Pierre Honoré - Photographer.
Copyright © P.Honoré
F. semicordata (montana and semicordata)
F. semicordata has special branches to carry the figs. These, are about 8m long.
figs of F. semicordata are sweet and test like apple. the special fruit branches are burried and fruits are growing in the soil.
This figs test like strawberry
F. prostrata - Figs
F. gasparriniana var. laceratifolia