Topic: Strangler Fig (Ficus sp.) Keystone Species for Biodiversity
Strangler Fig (Ficus sp.) Keystone Species for Biodiversity
Fig-eating by vertebrate frugivores: a global review.
Shanahan M, So S, Compton SG, Corlett R.
Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation, School of Biology, University of Leeds, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
The consumption of figs (the fruit of Ficus spp.: Moraceae) by vertebrates is reviewed using data from the literature, unpublished accounts and new field data from Borneo and Hong Kong. Records of frugivory from over 75 countries are presented for 260 Ficus species (approximately 30% of described species). Explanations are presented for geographical and taxonomic gaps in the otherwise extensive literature. In addition to a small number of reptiles and fishes, 1274 bird and mammal species in 523 genera and 92 families are known to eat figs. In terms of the number of species and genera of fig-eaters and the number of fig species eaten we identify the avian families interacting most with Ficus to be Columbidae, Psittacidae, Pycnonotidae, Bucerotidae, Sturnidae and Lybiidae. Among mammals, the major fig-eating families are Pteropodidae, Cercopithecidae, Sciuridae, Phyllostomidae and Cebidae. ... Our dataset supports previous claims that Ficus is the most important plant genus for tropical frugivores. We explore the concept of figs as keystone resources and suggest criteria for future investigations of their dietary importance. Finally, fully referenced lists of frugivores recorded at each Ficus species and of Ficus species in the diet of each frugivore are presented as online appendices. In situations where ecological information is incomplete or its retrieval is impractical, this valuable resource will assist conservationists in evaluating the role of figs or their frugivores in tropical forest sites.
Big on Figs
In Indonesia, one nutritious fruit is the wild fuel that runs the rain forest
The sun has barely risen over the sea, but its hot rays are already bathing the steamy forests of Tangkoko Nature Reserve on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The morning is heralded by a cacophony of wild calls and screeches in the forest canopy above me. It seems every animal in this small reserve is converging on an enormous fig tree. I have been watching this tree for weeks, and now its entire burden of fruit - between 400,000 and 600,000 figs - is ripening all at once. The bounty attracts birds and mammals from all directions to partake in a feeding frenzy.
But why, in a forest that harbors hundreds of different types of fruiting trees, is this fig so irresistible to so many forest creatures?
tests revealed that figs are an important natural source of calcium, critical for strong bones and eggshells, blood clotting and numerous cell functions. Figs have, on average, nearly three times more calcium than nonfig fruits and contain calcium levels higher than minimum dietary requirements for growing primates. Several fig species contain enough calcium to support a hen laying 300 eggs a year. The results were so exciting that Ellen tested fruits from South America and Africa and found that Tangkoko was not unique-the pattern held around the world.
At last, we had found the answer to the question that brought me to Tangkoko. I now knew that figs are irresistible to so many forest denizens not only because they are plentiful and provide enormous quantities of food year-round, but because these succulent fruits in all their various sizes, shapes and colors provide an essential nutrient.
From: http://www.aseanbiodiversity.org/index. … Itemid=109
May 2011— The President of the Philippines, Benigno S Aquino III, has launched the United Nations (UN) Decade on Biodiversity for Southeast Asia and has issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring a National Decade.
As a further demonstration of his country’s commitment to the objectives of the Decade, the President declared "the strangler fig tree, known in the Philippines as Balete, located in front of this hallowed hall, as our Heritage Tree. This balete tree, which is more than 100 years old, has been a mute witness to the unfolding of the Philippines’ rich history.”
“In declaring the Balete as a Heritage Tree, we will constantly be reminded of our obligations as citizens of this planet to protect, conserve and sustainably use our biodiversity resources," President Aquino said.
Prior to the Southeast Asia launch of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, President Aquino launched a National Greening Program which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in more than 1 million hectares of land across the Philippines from 2011 to 2016. The program was part of the Philippines launch of the International Year of Forests 2011.
Planting of different Ficus sp. should be part of the National Greening Program.
Video of this Strangler Fig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6j86yCQhZA