The story of the fig and its wasp

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted to navigate within these confined quarters. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps....

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Fungus makes zombie ants administer ‘death bite’ at noon

Researcher David Hughes has expanded research on a parasitic fungus and its carpenter ant host. As explained in an excerpt from a previous EcoTone post: Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates the ant’s behavior, driving it to bite the underside of the leaf at the...

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Spreading SEEDS, growing diversity

“Diversity fosters novel ideas that will soon begat significant changes to the global environment—whether that be through action-oriented ecology, bio-cultural conservation, policy or media,” said Iman Sylvain, Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) Fellow and graduate student at the University of Michigan. SEEDS is an education program of Ecological Society of America (ESA), and Iman is one of several...

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