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Forest fragmentation effects on the interaction of Ficus eximia Schott and their associated wasps in the state of Sao Paulo

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Ludmila Maria Rattis Teixeira
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: Ribeirão Preto.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (PCARP/BC)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Rodrigo Augusto Santinelo Pereira; Rita de Cássia Bianchi; Milton Cezar Ribeiro
Advisor: Rodrigo Augusto Santinelo Pereira

Brazilian forests, especially in the central and southeast regions, have been subject to intense habitat fragmentation. This study evaluated the fragmentation effects of semideciduous seasonal forests in São Paulo on the interaction between Ficus eximia and associated wasps (pollinating and non-pollinating). Our approach comprised two scales: (1) landscape scale, for which we compared data from the studied regions, namely Teodoro Sampaio (less fragmented), Gália (intermediate) and Ribeirão Preto (more fragmented) and (2) local scale, for which we considered the characteristics of the surrounding landscape of the sampled plant. The investigated issues were the following: (a) Is there pollen limitation in greatly degraded landscapes? (b) Does wasp community structure vary with fragmentation level and habitat disturbance? (c) Is it possible that limitations of pollen or parasitism by nonpollinating wasps compromise the primary fertility components of fig trees in the more fragmented landscape? To answer these questions, we collected figs at interfloral phase (after the pollinator had entered the fig and before offspring and seeds had completed their development) and figs close to wasp emergence phase. The results showed no evidence of pollination limitation in any studied landscape. The communities had a nested pattern, i.e., the species-poorest community Teodoro Sampaio is a subsample of the richer communities Ribeirão Preto and Gália. The availability of pollinating wasps appears to be greater in more fragmented landscapes. Inquiline fig wasps negatively affected seed and pollinator production in Ribeirão Preto; galler wasps also negatively affected seed production in Gália and seed and pollinator production in Teodoro Sampaio. However, significant relationships between variables related to fig reproductive potential and landscape characteristics were generally not detected. This study showed that Ficus-fig wasp mutualism appears to be resistant to landscape changes on a subcontinental scale. The reproductive system of fig biotic pollination enhanced by the wind makes this biological system rather insensitive to small-scale environmental changes. (AU)