Bone stable isotopes indicate a high trophic position for New Zealand’s extinct South Island adzebill (Aptornis defossor) (Gruiformes: Aptornithidae)

The adzebills (Aptornithidae) were an ancient endemic lineage of large flightless Gruiformes that became extinct shortly after Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. The diet and ecology of these enigmatic birds has long been a matter for conjecture, but recent stable isotope analyses of bones of the North Island adzebill (Aptornis otidiformis) have indicated that adzebills may have been predatory. Here, we add to our understanding of adzebill ecology by providing the first stable isotope analyses of South Island adzebill (A. defossor) bones from two Holocene deposits.

Effect of exclosure on soils, biomass, plant nutrients, and vegetation, on unfertilised steeplands, Upper Waitaki District, South Island, New Zealand

We sampled soils and vegetation within and outside two sheep and rabbit exclosures, fenced in 1979, on steep sunny and shady slopes at 770 m altitude on seasonally-dry pastoral steeplands. The vegetation of sunny aspects was characterised by higher floristic diversity, annual species, and low plant cover. Here the exotic grass Anthoxanthum odoratum dominated on grazed treatments, and the exotic forb Hieracium pilosella on ungrazed. Shady aspects supported fewer, and almost entirely perennial, species.

Dynamic Processes in New Zealand Land-Water Ecotones

This paper reviews current knowledge of dynamic processes in New Zealand land-water ecotones drawing on published quantitative data wherever possible. Basic ecosystem processes in forested and natural unforested land-water ecotones are compared, and dynamic processes are discussed under the following headings: time scales of change; water movement; sediment trapping and transport; dissolved nutrient dynamics; dissolved oxygen; trophic interactions.

Effects of mixed cropping farming systems on changes in soil properties on the Canterbury Plains

Before European settlement, most of the 750,000 ha of land comprising the Canterbury Plains was under native tussock grassland with pockets of podocarp forest. The dominant land use today is mixed cropping in which cereals and cash crops are grown for 2 to 4 years followed by grass-clover pasture for 2 to 4 years. These cropping rotations are generally too short for either a substantial build-up in soil organic matter under pasture or its breakdown under arable cropping to occur.

Influence of Improved Pastures and Grazing Animals on Nutrient Cycling within New Zealand Soils

The improvement of New Zealands pastures over the last 150 years has increased the nutrient status of the soil as a result of the application of fertiliser, an increased soil organic matter content and increased biological activity. The grazing animal has also influenced the nutrient status of the soil by increasing the rate at which nutrients cycle between the soil, plants and animals.

Nitrogen Balances in Natural Grasslands and Extensively-Managed Grassland Systems

An approach is outlined for synthesising current understanding of nitrogen dynamics in natural grasslands and extensively managed grassland systems. The increasing complexity of models is illustrated from recent literature, first conceptualising and eventually process-simulating the dynamics of nitrogen, especially in the soil sub-systems of grasslands. Some comparisons are made between New Zealand and North American grasslands in the magnitude of some N pools and fluxes and some of the principal features of soil biological studies are noted.

Declining soil fertility does not increase leaf lifespan within species: evidence from the Franz Josef chronosequence, New Zealand

Leaf lifespan varies widely among plant species, from a few weeks to >40 years. This variation is associated with differences in plant form and function, and the distribution of species along resource gradients. Longer leaf lifespans increase the residence time of nutrients and are one mechanism by which plants conserve nutrients; consequently, leaf lifespan should increase within species with declining soil nutrient availability. The Franz Josef chronosequence is a series of post-glacial surfaces along which soil fertility declines strongly with increasing soil age.

Causes and consequences of frequent flowering on edges in the mast-seeding genus Chionochloa (Poaceae)

Recent work has shown that resource accumulation is important in allowing mast-seeding plants to display occasional intense reproductive efforts. Anecdotal reports suggest that Chionochloa tussocks (bunchgrasses) on patch edges flower more frequently, and it has been proposed that this is due to greater resource availability. This study aimed to quantify any edge effect in flowering effort in Chionochloa populations at Mt Hutt in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and to look for correlations with available soil nutrients.