Stable isotope analysis reveals variable diets of stoats (Mustela erminea) in the alpine zone of New Zealand

The alpine zone of New Zealand covers c. 30% of public conservation land and is home to a high diversity of endemic species. Predation by introduced stoats (Mustela erminea) is identified as a major threat to alpine fauna. However, a lack of biological information, such as what stoats eat in different settings, hinders efforts to focus control measures in time and space in order to achieve the greatest conservation gains. We used a biochemical tool, stable isotope analysis, to estimate stoat diet across three time-periods in the alpine zone of three national parks.

Impacts of introduced mammalian predators on New Zealand’s alpine fauna

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.

How elevation affects ship rat (Rattus rattus) capture patterns, Mt Misery, New Zealand

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.

Expanding an existing classification of New Zealand vegetation to include non-forested vegetation

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.

A case for multi-species management of sympatric herbivore pest impacts in the central Southern Alps, New Zealand

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 Record of Alpine Grasshopper Abundance, with Interpretations for Climate Change

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.

Fire, grazing and the evolution of New Zealand grasses

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.