The arrangement of plant species along elevational gradients is prominent in the debate between individualistic versus community-unit concepts in plant ecology. We obtained elevational ranges (upper and lower elevation limits) for woody species and ferns on the three highest mountains on Aotea (Great Barrier Island), Aotearoa-New Zealand. These data allowed potential species composition to be obtained for any elevation and were analysed using regression, ordination, and classification. Both woody plants and ferns demonstrated linear declines in richness with increasing elevation.
Non-native conifers constitute a significant threat to the ecology and biodiversity of many of New Zealand’s native ecosystems and species. From the top down, the potential distributions of non-native conifer species are governed by climate suitability, which alongside variables such as the availability of suitable habitats and a source of propagules determines whether an area of land will be susceptible to invasion by a given species.
Many of New Zealand’s 104 lizard taxa are restricted to the country’s main islands where they are vulnerable to a range of threats. Information on population trends and basic ecological data are lacking for most species, hampering conservation efforts. We monitored a population of scree skinks (Oligosoma waimatense; conservation status: Nationally Vulnerable) in an alluvial stream bed in O Tu Wharekai Wetland in the mid-Canterbury high country over 10 years (2008−2018) to understand aspects of the population’s ecology, and to clarify potential threats and options for management.
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.
Climate change may exacerbate the impacts of plant invasions by providing opportunities for new naturalisations and for alien species to expand into regions where previously they could not survive and reproduce. Although climate change is not expected to favour invasive plants in every case, in Aotearoa-New Zealand a large pool of potential new weeds already exists and this country is predicted to be an ‘invasion hotspot’ under climate change.
Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide content was concluded to have had an ambiguous climatic influence and may be less important than sometimes considered. Several studies have suggested increased turbidity has produced a recent global cooling trend. An examination of some climatic effects of volcanic eruption was made in relation to the prediction that the effect of 500 supersonic transport aircraft would be comparable over the North Atlantic to the amount of stratospheric injection from the 1963 Mount Agung eruption.
Ascarina lucida Hook.f. (Chloranthaceae) is a small tree species endemic to New Zealand. The distribution of A. lucida suggests an inability to survive severe frosts or droughts. Therefore, peaks in the abundance of A. lucida in pollen records have usually been interpreted as indicating periods of mild, moist climates. The environmental tolerance of A. lucida seedlings to climatic extremes was experimentally tested by exposing seedlings to frost, drought, and waterlogged soil conditions. This research confirms the sensitivity of A. lucida to climatic extremes.
The New Zealand Ecological Society is a scientific society formed in 1951 "to promote the study of ecology and the application of ecological knowledge in all its aspects". It draws its membership primarily from research and teaching institutions. On three occasions in its history the Society has prepared substantive statements on ecological issues it regarded as of national importance: the utilisation of South Island beech forests (1973); a population policy for New Zealand (1974); and the generation of nuclear power in New Zealand (1977).
New Zealand’s offshore islands are refuges for many threatened species, a high proportion of vertebrate diversity, and the world’s most diverse fauna of seabirds. We present key issues and questions that can be used to guide research on the conservation of biodiversity on these islands. Four global reviews formed a basis from which we identified research questions of potential relevance to the management of these islands. The research questions were assigned in the context of nine objectives proposed as a means of achieving ecological integrity.
We highlight three areas of significant progress in ecology since 1989 which are particularly relevant to New Zealand, and three major challenges for the next two decades. Progress: (1) The unusual life histories of New Zealand organisms, including extreme longevity and low reproductive rates, are now seen as efficient responses to the low-disturbance environment present before the arrival of large mammals, including humans.