Changes in the vegetation of Flat Top Hill, a highly modified conservation area in semi;arid Central Otago, New Zealand, are described four years after the cessation of sheep and rabbit grazing. Unusually moist weather conditions coincide with the four-year period of change in response to the cessation of grazing. Between 1993 and 1997, the average richness and diversity (H') of species increased, and the average proportion of native species decreased significantly.
Fragments of kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) forest provide a major opportunity for conservation of indigenous biodiversity in the heavily deforested landscape of the Waikato Basin, New Zealand. However, there is little documented information on what indigenous fauna survives in these fragments.
The Humped-back theory of plant species richness, a theory related to Grime's C-S-R 'triangular' model, has been widely discussed, and some evidence has been claimed in support of it. The theory suggests that species richness is maximal at intermediate levels of productivity, i.e., at intermediate positions on a stress/favourability gradient. We sought evidence for the theory from 90 stands of native podocarp/broadleaved and beech forest in the Coastal Otago region, with an adjustment made for the effect of stand area on species richness.
Functional convergence of different communities in similar environments would be expected as an outcome of the operation of 'assembly rules'. At an ecological level, competitive exclusion would restrict the co-occurrence of species with similar niches. Repetition of competitive sorting on an evolutionary time scale might lead to character displacement.
A Nothofagus-dominated rainforest in eastern Fiordland, New Zealand, was sampled by shoot frequency in contiguous 1 x 1 m quadrats, along a topologically-circular transect. The data were analysed at five scales up to 5 x 1 m, to search for assembly rules, i.e., generalised restrictions on species co- occurrences. There was no evidence of niche limitation in terms of the whole community, at any scale examined. Rather, variance in species richness was greater than expected from a null model, suggesting environmental heterogeneity. This conclusion was confirmed by using a patch-model.
The vegetation of an area of the Upper Clutha basin, New Zealand, with a 'semi-arid' climate, was sampled with 95 quadrats in a nested randomised design. All types of vegetation were sampled, from near-natural to managed pastures. Twenty four environmental factors were measured in each quadrat. Five 'formations' are described, and 14 'communities' recognised within them, although there are few constant or faithful species. Such weak structure, and relatively weak correlation with the environment, are partly attributed to non- equilibrium.