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Wasps key to survival of 1,200 species: Research

Global warming may kill pollinators of figs, food for many animals: Study

Published on Apr 6, 2013 9:41 AM
 
The tiny fig wasps live for just one or two days and a 3 deg C rise in global temperature can reduce their lifespans by 25 per cent, thus giving them less time to find figs to pollinate. -- PHOTO: NANTHINEE JEVANANDAM

IF WASPS that pollinate fig trees die out due to global warming, it could lead to a "massive loss of animal species", Singaporean researchers have found.

A worldwide temperature rise of 3 deg C - which scientists predict could happen by 2050 as greenhouse gases warm the planet - could kill the wasps that the 750 known fig varieties rely on to reproduce.

This would reduce fig numbers, which could in turn lead to the decline of up to 1,200 species that rely on it as a food source - including orang utans, fruit bats and hornbills.

The claims come from a two-year study into wasps led by Singaporean ecologist Nanthinee Jevanandam, who was a PhD researcher at the National University of Singapore when it started.

 
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Background story

VITAL PART OF FOOD CHAIN

I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a crisis. We cannot predict these things absolutely. But the importance of figs is clear - this cannot be disputed."

- Singaporean ecologist Nanthinee Jevanandam, on reduction of figs which could in turn lead to the decline of up to 1,200 species that rely on it as a food source