Natural hybrids between Ficus septica and two closely related dioecious species, F. fistulosa and F. hispida, were confirmed using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) and chloroplast DNA markers. Ficus species have a highly species-specific pollination mutualism with agaonid wasps. Therefore, the identification of cases in which breakdown in this sophisticated system occurs and the circumstances under which it happens is of interest. Various studies have confirmed that Ficus species are able to hybridize and that pollinator-specificity breakdown can occur under certain conditions. This study is the first example in which hybrid identity and the presence of hybrids in the natural distribution of parental species for Ficus have been confirmed with molecular markers. Hybrid individuals were identified on three island locations in the Sunda Strait region of Indonesia. These findings support Janzen's (1979) hypothesis that breakdown in pollinator specificity is more likely to occur on islands. We hypothesized that hybrid events could occur when the population size of pollinator wasps was small or had been small in one of the parental species. Later generation hybrids were identified, indicating that backcrossing and introgression did occur to some extent and that therefore, hybrids could be fertile. The small number of hybrids found indicated that there was little effect of hybridization on parental species integrity over the study area. Although hybrid individuals were not common, their presence at multiple sites indicated that the hybridization events reported here were not isolated incidences. Chloroplast DNA haplotypes of hybrids were not derived solely from one species, suggesting that the seed donor was not of the same parental species in all hybridization events.
- fig tree