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Fig wasp species richness

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera;  Superfamily: Chalcidoidea)

Fig wasps are circumtropical in distribution, with about 640 described species in the world. This figure probably represents about 20-30% of the existing species - in other words we still have to describe (and in many cases still collect) another 1300 to 2600 species! 

There are 228 described species of an estimated 700-1000 species in the Afrotropical region (an estimation based on available undescribed material, host-specificity and extrapolation from host associations). The pollinators (Agaonidae) are known from about 70% of the 105 African Ficus species listed by Berg (1990), (Wiebes & Compton, 1990), while 56% of the African Sycoecinae have also been described, as estimated from an extrapolation of known host associations (van Noort, 1994). In the Neotropical region there are 122 described species and in the Indo-Australasian region there are around 290 described species.

Berg & Wiebes' book on African fig trees and fig wasps (1992) forms the foundation for our taxonomic knowledge of fig wasps from the Afrotropical region, but as with any systematic treatise where work is ongoing this book was out of date almost as soon as it was published. Systematics of fig wasps is currently being worked on by a number of researchers. Jean-Yves Rasplus and Carole Kerdelhué are revising the Epichrysomallinae and Sycophaginae. Simon van Noort has completed the revision of the Afrotropical Sycoecinae (although more undescribed material has already become available), and, in collaboration with Jean-Yves Rasplus, is currently revising the Indo-Australasian Sycoecinae, world Otitesellinae and Afrotropical Agaonidae. 

The following tables provide data on described and estimated species richness (based on extrapolation from known host associations) for three groups of fig wasps (data from van Noort & Rasplus in prep).

Web authors Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)

and Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA, France)


Citation: van Noort, S. & Rasplus, JY. 2024. Figweb: figs and fig wasps of the world. URL: www.figweb.org(Accessed on <day-month-year>).

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