Both Diurnal and Nocturnal Frugivores Eat the Fruits of Piper sancti-felicis, (Piperaceae)
Piper sancti-felicis is a common, early successional shrub of wet Neotropical forests. The shrub displays very low fecundity matched with continual fruiting throughout the year. Its fruits lack a bright color, have a sweet odor, and are relatively large. Together these characteristics have led past workers to consider it a specialized, bat-dispersed shrub. In order to test this assumption, a population of 835 fruits on 24 shrubs was closely monitored by means of a twice-daily census. The disappearances of four times as many fruits during the daytime as during the nighttime show that bats can only be responsible for the disappearance of one-fifth of the fruits. These findings substantiate views that, given the instability of a successional habitat, obligate coevolved associations probably rarely develop, but rather selection moves toward "general" associations. Before generalized classifications of dispersal systems can be arrived at, more actual field studies must be done.