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Image of the Day: Selfish Behavior

Wasps use figs as breeding safe havens, pollinating their fruit shelters in return. Some wasps, however, solipsistically use their figs without fertilizing any seeds. 

The Scientist Staff

A fig (Ficus obtusifolia) pictured with its pollinator wasp.

CHARLOTTE JANDER

   Wasps and fig trees swap favors: the fruit serves as the insects' breeding grounds and the wasps pollinate the plants. Some fig tree species can discourage wasps that don't participate in the exchange by dropping unpollinated figs, destroying the larvae inside, according to the authors' report.

See K.C. Jandér et al., “Why mutualist partners vary in quality: mutation–selection balance and incentives to cheat in the fig tree–fig wasp mutualism,” Ecology Letters, doi:10.1111/ele.12792, 2017.

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