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Hurricane Andrew and a Florida Fig Pollination Mutualism: Resilience of an Obligate Interaction
Judith L. Bronstein and Martine Hossaert-McKey
Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 373-381
Published by: Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388922
Page Count: 9
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The obligate mutualism between figs and their species-specific pollinator wasps has been thought to be relatively fragile in the face of population fluctuations of either mutualist. Here we report on the recovery of a Florida fig pollination mutualism devastated by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. Damage to Ficus aurea included loss of all leaves and fruits and many branches, as well as the presumed local extinction of its pollinator Pegoscapus jimenezi. Within five months, however, fig flowering plenology and fig wasp abundance (measured by the number of pollinators entering inflorescences) had recovered to near prehurricane levels. Unusual phenological traits of F. aurea may have aided in the rapid reestablishment of pollinator populations; in addition, the wasps may have previously underappreciated capacities for long distance movements. This study suggests that obligate interactions can be surprisingly resilient to certain population-level catastrophes.
Biotropica © 1995 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation