Phenology of six Ficus L., Moraceae, species and its effects on pollinator survival, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

McPherson, John R. (2005) Phenology of six Ficus L., Moraceae, species and its effects on pollinator survival, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Geographical Research, 43 (3). pp. 297-305.

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The biogeography and historical distribution of various plants often depend as much on the environmental tolerance of their pollinators as they do on the tolerance of the plant. A four year, phenological study of 35 trees from six Ficus species was carried out in Brisbane's Central Business District. The presence of syconia (figs) and their sexual phases was recorded monthly for each tree. All six species bore 'female' phase syconia randomly in any month. The presence of 'male' phase syconia was seasonal for Ficus benjamina, Ficus microcarpa and Ficus virens. It was less seasonal for Ficus obliqua and Ficus rubiginosa. Ficus macrophylla exhibited aseasonal distribution of 'male' phase syconia. Symbiont pollinator wasp mortality was the cause of the skew in the seasonal distribution of 'male' phase syconia. Ficus benjamina, F. microcarpa and F. virens seldom had 'male' and 'female' phase syconia concurrently on an individual tree, while F. macrophylla and F. obliqua often did. Ficus rubiginosa was intermediate between the two groups. Intra-tree overlap of syconia in both sexual phases permits short dispersal flights by pollinators and is advantageous to their survival during the cooler months. The pollinators of F. benjamina, F. microcarpa and F. virens, historically tropical and tropical/subtropical species, are unlikely to establish in temperate areas due to high winter mortality rates. The other three Ficus species historically occurred in temperate climates and the pollinators of two, F. macrophylla and F. rubiginosa, are extending their range into temperate Australia and New Zealand. The pollination biology of Ficus spp. will thus be a determining factor in whether a species is able to naturalise or become invasive in a location that experiences a particular climate, or if it is safe to use as a horticultural amenity species.

Item ID: 14023
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1745-5871
Keywords: Agaonid; critical population size; Eupristina; Odontofroggattia; Platyscapa; Pleistodontes
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2010 04:15
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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