While invasive rats are demonstrably inimical to indigenous vertebrate species, there has not been unequivocal evidence of benefit to invertebrate communities from management of these invasive mammals in New Zealand forest systems. The present study examined the response of land snail communities to intensive management of ship and Norway rats by sampling paired rainforest blocks, one block of which had been subject to intensive management of rats, while the other block had been without management of invasive rats and thus subject to ambient rodent infestations.
Ecological research into rodents in New Zealand commenced in the late 1940s with the creation of the Animal Ecology Section, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). Field surveys of rodents were backed by study skins and skeletal material. Supplemented by specimens from the Wildlife Service and the public, these accrued over the next 45 years laying the foundation for our present knowledge of rodent distribution. In 1951, J. S. Watson joined the DSIR from the Bureau of Animal Population, Oxford, and brought much needed experience in rodent biology and control.
New Zealand has just passed half a century of rodent eradications on islands. Confirmation of the first rat eradication in New Zealand on Maria Island/Ruapuke coincided with the devastating rat invasion on Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa. We review the early history of rodent management in New Zealand leading up to and including the Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa ship rat invasion, and document the development and implementation of rodent eradication technologies on New Zealand islands up to the present day.
The lowland Canterbury Plains of New Zealand have been extensively modified since human occupation, but with recent conversions to irrigated dairy farming very few remnants of native dryland vegetation remain in the region. We investigated soil chemistry, plant distribution and soil invertebrates along transects in Bankside Scientific Reserve, a small (2.6 ha) remnant. The vegetation is a mosaic of native woody shrubs, predominantly Kunzea serotina (kanuka, Myrtaceae) and Discaria toumatou (matagouri, Rhamnaceae), and dry grassland.
More than 600 community environmental groups across New Zealand are engaged in restoring degraded sites and improving and protecting habitat for native species. In the face of ongoing biodiversity declines, resource management agencies are increasing their reliance on these groups to enhance conservation outcomes nationally. However, little is known about community groups and their activities beyond local or regional studies.
Fruit-eating animals play a key role in spreading non-native environmental weeds, via seed ingestion and subsequent dispersal. We reviewed available information on dispersal of fleshy-fruited environmental weeds in New Zealand. We found almost a third (32.9%) of 295 environmental weed species in New Zealand have fleshy fruits adapted for internal dispersal by animals. Fruiting phenology differs between weeds and native plants, with many weed species fruiting from late autumn until early spring (May to September) when native fruits are scarce.
Monitoring is important in conservation management, essential for assessing population trends, making decisions and allocating resources. Artificial retreats can offer a reliable, low impact and efficient method for monitoring cryptic herpetofauna. Methods for monitoring artificial retreats vary between different conservation management programmes in New Zealand, however, and a deeper understanding of the causes of these variations would encourage greater standardisation and enable more reliable comparisons to be made across temporal and spatial scales.
Many restoration projects aim to increase populations of native fauna and flora, but benefits to the ecological interactions between species are unknown. The restoration of bird pollination services to Fuchsia excorticata (tree fuchsia) was examined at Maungatautari, in the Waikato Region, New Zealand. At Maungatautari, a pest-exclusion fence encloses ~3400 ha of native forest, within which most mammalian pests were eradicated between 2004 and 2007.
Deficiencies in knowledge of New Zealand plants are outlined, particularly with regard to conservation status and distribution. In an effective and integrated approach to the documentation and study of rare and endangered plants four aspects must be considered: documentation of individual taxa, provision of effective protective legislation, preservation of populations in the wild and in cultivation, and education of both the general public and botanists.
These recommendations are aimed at providing the maximum water use for both Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau commensurate with the conservation of those features of their natural shorelines which provide ecological stability and a high aesthetic quality.