Basically, fig fruit contain many ovules (which may end up producing a seed or may become the home for a wasp larva).
Pollinating wasps preferentially lay their eggs in ovules near the center of the fruit and several hypotheses have been proposed that might explain why they do this.
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This is the person to contact if you want to examine the data supporting the paper, to request an interview about the research for a publication or to find out about graduate work in his or her lab!
Also be sure to check out the affiliations of the authors.These researchers are all from academia, and an Internet search reveals that James M. Like a chapter outline, the abstract gives you a general idea of what's coming and makes it easier for you to fill in the details later.Cook is a professor who runs a lab focusing on parasitism and mutualism. Try translating the abstract line by line into plain English. Try it now: Mouse over each sentence in the abstract to see it translated!This gets at the idea of evolutionary stability the ability of a particular trait or set of traits (in this case, the traits associated with the mutualism between figs and their pollinators) to be maintained for millions of years, despite all the random mutations that might be more advantageous for an individual and allow the organisms to evolve a different set of traits.The second paragraph explains the basic biology of figs' pollination by wasps and why this mutualism might be evolutionarily unstable: "Trees need to produce both wasps and seeds for the mutualism to persist, but natural selection should favour wasps that exploit the maximum number of fig ovules in the short term, resulting in a conflict of interest between wasp and tree." The third paragraph explains more about fig fruits and wasp egg-laying, as well as hypotheses to explain these observations.Are they at universities, in industry, or in government?Sometimes this can give you an idea of why this research was done in the first place. Read the abstract first to get a thumbnail sketch of where the authors are going and whether or not the paper will be of interest to you.Scientific journal articles can be daunting with their technical jargon, footnotes, and statistics.However, understanding one is not an impossible task.This paragraph contains some vocabulary you may need to look up but will be very helpful when you look at the Methods section later!The fourth paragraph addresses another hypothesis to explain the preferential egg-laying.