Commonly known as either the sycamore fig or the fig-mulberry, this fig tree is from the Kingdome Plantae, Phylum angiosperm, Class eudicots, Order Rosales, Family Moraceae, Genus Ficus and Species Ficus sycomorus (Wikipedia 2014).
From the Moraceae family, there are around 113 species and with each taxon having a wasp species being able to pollinate it. The Genus Ficus, including the subgenus Sycomorus, has subgenus such as: Sycidium, Pharmacosycea and Urostigma. Each of this subgenus has a number of different types of fig trees with different characteristics that defines them (Noort and Rasplus).
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Picture of a Ficus sycomorus in South Africa (Noort and Rasplus)
As mentioned before, figs are pollinated with the help of fig wasp that are associated with their inflorescence. Together they have an obligate mutualism because only together are they able to reproduce successfully (Cook and Segar 2010). With the help of fig wasps, the sycamore fig is able to reproduce sexually and furthermore have more genetic variation in its offspring.
In order to protect the nursery, where the baby wasps are being developed, the fig tree needs to use mechanical defenses against predators eating the figs or the leaves – since, if the tree loses to many of its leaves, then it will have to drop the undeveloped figs. A type of mechanical defense that plants use is the secretion of a milky latex that is “foul tasting and sticky” (Deeble and Victoria 2013).
Another form of intelligence is seen during the reproductive stage, if one of the female wasps does not contribute to the pollination before she dies, then the sycamore tree will drop the fruit and furthermore killing the eggs (Kline 2011).
In order to have access for bats to catch the figs for seed dispersal, the sycamore fig is able to have to accommodate for the bats by droppings leaves surrounding matured figs and hanging them on branches with easy access (Deeble and Victoria 2013).
Although, one could say that a strategy for the sycamore fig to attract its pollinators is through the bribery of a safe space for their offspring to develop in; there are figs that we earth that use trickery by making a female wasp enter through the opening, and losing her wings in the process, but they are not able to lay their eggs and furthermore die after having already pollinated the flower because that is what they usually do before laying their eggs so that their offspring may have food (E! Science News 2010). This trickery happens with female trees in dioecious figs because of longer styles in the flowers, and the fig wasps that have small ovipositors are not able to reach the ovary and put an egg (Cook and Segar 2010). Which comes together with the idea that plants are able to manipulate animals by knowing when the animals are needed (Hallé 2002).
Seeing how closely related the fig wasp is to its fig tree, it is no surprise then that this relationship has occurred through the process of coevolution and cospeciation within these two. By being able to synchronize their reproduction patterns and specializing, the fig wasp will not be in much competition with many pollinating fig wasps. This will also be benefiting the sycamore fig because as much as it needs pollinators, the fig tree also needs the seeds and the space for seeds could be potentially in danger is specialization had not occurred (Cook and Segar 2010). Remarkably, these type of mutualism is one that is so dependent from one another that it has shown through...