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An inquiline fig wasp using seeds as a resource for small male production: a potential first step for the evolution of new feeding habits?




The processes allowing evolutionary transitions in resources used by parasitic wasps are largely unknown. Microhymenopteran communities associated with figs could provide a model system to investigate such transitions. We investigate here a species of genus Idarnes. The larvae generally develop as inquilines of the pollinating wasp larvae. However, in figs where the parasitic pressure is high, eggs are laid in developing seeds. These eggs turn into small males. This is the first report of seed consumption by a fig wasp. Using an alternative resource to produce small males could provide a pathway to select for increased ability to use this resource and hence provide an intermediate step for evolving the capacity to use new resources. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 92, 9–17.

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