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High Temperatures Result in Smaller Nurseries which Lower Reproduction of Pollinators and Parasites in a Brood Site Pollination Mutualism

Krishnan, Anusha and Pramanik, Gautam Kumar and Revadi, Santosh V and Venkateswaran, Vignesh and Borges, Renee M (2014) High Temperatures Result in Smaller Nurseries which Lower Reproduction of Pollinators and Parasites in a Brood Site Pollination Mutualism. In: PLOS ONE, 9 (12).

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pone.0115118


In a nursery pollination mutualism, we asked whether environmental factors affected reproduction of mutualistic pollinators, non-mutualistic parasites and seed production via seasonal changes in plant traits such as inflorescence size and within-tree reproductive phenology. We examined seasonal variation in reproduction in Ficus racemosa community members that utilise enclosed inflorescences called syconia as nurseries. Temperature, relative humidity and rainfall defined four seasons: winter; hot days, cold nights; summer and wet seasons. Syconium volumes were highest in winter and lowest in summer, and affected syconium contents positively across all seasons. Greater transpiration from the nurseries was possibly responsible for smaller syconia in summer. The 3-5 degrees C increase in mean temperatures between the cooler seasons and summer reduced fig wasp reproduction and increased seed production nearly two-fold. Yet, seed and pollinator progeny production were never negatively related in any season confirming the mutualistic fig-pollinator association across seasons. Non-pollinator parasites affected seed production negatively in some seasons, but had a surprisingly positive relationship with pollinators in most seasons. While within-tree reproductive phenology did not vary across seasons, its effect on syconium inhabitants varied with season. In all seasons, within-tree reproductive asynchrony affected parasite reproduction negatively, whereas it had a positive effect on pollinator reproduction in winter and a negative effect in summer. Seasonally variable syconium volumes probably caused the differential effect of within-tree reproductive phenology on pollinator reproduction. Within-tree reproductive asynchrony itself was positively affected by intra-tree variation in syconium contents and volume, creating a unique feedback loop which varied across seasons. Therefore, nursery size affected fig wasp reproduction, seed production and within-tree reproductive phenology via the feedback cycle in this system. Climatic factors affecting plant reproductive traits cause biotic relationships between plants, mutualists and parasites to vary seasonally and must be accorded greater attention, especially in the context of climate change.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: PLOS ONE
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 1160 BATTERY STREET, STE 100, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2015 12:12
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015 12:12
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/51067

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