Alpine zones are threatened globally by invasive species, hunting, and habitat loss caused by fire, anthropogenic development and climate change. These global threats are pertinent in New Zealand, with the least understood pressure being the potential impacts of introduced mammalian predators, the focus of this review. In New Zealand, alpine zones include an extensive suite of cold climate ecosystems covering c. 11% of the land mass. They support rich communities of indigenous invertebrates, lizards, fish, and birds.
There is a lack of information about how elevation affects the distribution of ship rats in New Zealand. In this study, ship rats (Rattus rattus) were captured in traps set along a 2 km elevational transect (455–1585 m a.s.l.) in beech (Nothofagaceae) forest and adjacent alpine tussock at Mt Misery, in Nelson Lakes National Park, from 1974 to 1993. A total of 118 rats were captured.
We produced the first national-scale quantitative classification of non-forest vegetation types, including shrubland, based on vegetation plot data from the National Vegetation Survey Databank. Semi-supervised clustering with the fuzzy classification algorithm Noise Clustering was used to incorporate these new data into a pre-existing quantitative classification of New Zealand’s woody vegetation.
Five herbivorous introduced mammals are sympatric in the central Southern Alps. All of these species have the potential to affect conservation values, yet the Department of Conservation at present monitors and mitigates the impacts of only one. We outline ecological arguments for multi-species management of sympatric herbivore pest impacts and use the two- species system of sympatric thar and chamois to highlight the need for multi-species management of the central Southern Alps alpine pest community.
A 20-year capture-recapture study of alpine grasshoppers spanned three distinct sequences of abundance, featuring in turn dis-equilibrium, equilibrium and secondary cyclic equilibrium. This succession of population patterns in the most abundant species, Paprides nitidus, retained high stability between generations. It arose via superimposed life- cycle pathways and adaptive responses between grasshopper phenologies and their environmental constraints.
Less than 4% of the non-bamboo grasses worldwide abscise old leaves, whereas some 18% of New Zealand native grasses do so. Retention of dead or senescing leaves within grass canopies reduces biomass production and encourages fire but also protects against mammalian herbivory. Recently it has been argued that elevated rates of leaf abscission in New Zealand’s native grasses are an evolutionary response to the absence of indigenous herbivorous mammals.