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African Natural History

On-line version ISSN 2305-7963
Print version ISSN 1816-8396

Afr. nat. history (Online) vol.5  Cape Town Jan. 2009

 

Sneaky African fig wasps that oviposit through holes drilled by other species

 

 

Stephen G. ComptonI; Simon van NoortII; Michael McLeishIII; Mark DeebleIV; Victoria StoneV

IFaculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, U.K. E-mail: s.g.a.compton@leeds.ac.uk
IINatural History Collections Department, Iziko South African Museum, P.O. Box 61, Cape Town, 8000 South Africa, and Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7701 E-mail: svannoort@iziko.org.za
IIISouth African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa. E-mail: mcleish@sun.ac.za
IVOld Coastguards, Gurnards Head, Zennor, Cornwall, TR26 3DE, U.K
VOld Coastguards, Gurnards Head, Zennor, Cornwall, TR26 3DE, U.K

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

Watshamiella Wiebes species (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Pteromalidae: Sycoryctinae) were observed to engage, monitor and subsequently use oviposition holes made by other parasitoid fig wasp genera (Apocrypta Coquerel and Sycoryctes Mayr) to oviposit into host figs (Moraceae, Ficus) through the fig wall. They may be inquilines, klepto-parasitoids, or hyper-parasitoids; however, further biological investigations of larval diet are required to establish their life history strategy. Watshamiella species are morphologically robust, with enlarged fore femora and tibia, and aggressively interact with other fig wasps and ants. Our observations contribute towards unravelling the complex suite of behavioural adaptations and interactions involved in the community ecology of the obligate mutualism that exists between fig wasps and their host figs.

Keywords: behaviour, biology, inquiline, parasitoid, ecology, Ficus, fig wasp, Sycoryctinae.


 

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA) for providing valuable comments on the manuscript. The Ugandan Wildlife Authority and Ugandan Council for Science and Technology provided permission to S.v.N. and M.M. to conduct research in Kibale National Park. This material is partly based upon work supported by the South African National Research Foundation grant GUN 61497 to S.v.N.

 

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Received 3 July 2009
Accepted 25 August 2009

 

 

Correspondence:
Department of Botany & Zoology
Natuurwetenskappe Building
University of Stellenbosch, Matieland
7602 South Africa

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