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Oecologia. 1981 Oct;51(1):42-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00344650.

Fecundity, fruiting pattern, and seed dispersal in Piper amalago (Piperaceae), a bat-dispersed tropical shrub.

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Department of Biology, University of Miami, 33124, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.


This paper describes the nightly and seasonal production of ripe fruit by Piper amalago (Piperaceae), a patchily distributed, bat-dispersed forest shrub, at Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, Costa Rica. Phenological observations over several years indicate that individuals produce a low (usually 1-3) and variable number of ripe fruit each night for 3-4 wks in the early wet season (June and July). Observations of the disappearance rates of marked fruits and fruit manipulation experiments indicate that fruit removal probabilities are high (often nearly 1.0) and independent of nightly and seasonal ripe fruit crop size. Data from previous feeding and foraging studies of the bat Carollia perspicillata (Phyllostomidae) are used to estimate the mobility of P. amalago's seeds. Most seeds (>90%) are deposited ≧50 m from parent plants under night feeding roosts. Relatively few seeds move >300 m, and movements this long are more likely to occur early and late in the fruiting season when bats change feeding sites more frequently. Seed experiments indicate that P. amalago seedling establishment probabilities are higher in light gaps than under forest canopy. The dispersal quality (sensu McKey 1975) of P. amalago's chiropteran seed dispersers is directly proportional to the number of seeds they excrete in actual or incipient light gaps.


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