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Conservation through cultivation

Trees retaliate when their fig wasps don’t service them




It would seem trees are not as dumb as they first appear. When wasps try to lay eggs from outside the flower with out pollinating the flower, instead of inside the flower while spreading pollen the trees drop the fruit containing the baby wasps to death.

While trees often drop unpollinated flowers, they will often hold onto the galls containing the wasps and provide themselves with a future generation of pollinators.

Figs and fig wasps have evolved to help each other out: Fig wasps lay their eggs inside the fruit where the wasp larvae can safely develop, and in return, the wasps pollinate the figs.

But what happens when a wasp lays its eggs but fails to pollinate the fig?

The trees get even by dropping those figs to the ground, killing the baby wasps inside, reports a Cornell University and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (published online Jan. 13). ( read more read more about tree retaliation )

More information
Abstract
Download the paper (pdf)