Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were offered Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) eggs and day-old domestic chickens (Gallus gallus) during a captive feeding trial. Differences in feeding sign left by possums of differing sex, age class, and hunger were slight or absent. Possum feeding trial remains were also compared with remains of North Island robin (Petroica australis longipes) and North Island tomtit (Petroica macrocephala toitoi) eggs and chicks preyed on by ship rats (Rattus rattus) at videoed nests.
New Zealand's avifauna is characterised by a variety of endemic, often flightless, birds most of which are critically endangered. One of these, the takahe, is a large flightless rail which has been reduced to one population of 115 birds in its natural alpine habitat plus 52 others introduced on four small offshore islands. By contrast the takahe's closest extant relative, the pukeko, has been highly successful since its invasion of New Zealand within the past 800 years.
The distribution and abundance of lizards relative to habitat structure were studied at Pukerua Bay, Wellington between December 1982 and March 1988 in order to identify options for management of the habitat of the five species of lizards present. One species, Whitaker's skink (Cyclodina whitakeri), is a threatened species with only one known mainland population. Pitfall traps were set for 23 667 trap-days and yielded 2897 lizard captures. Highest capture rate was for common skinks (Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma) and lowest rate was for C. whitakeri.
Dactylanthus taylorii, a root parasite in the family Balanophoraceae, is New Zealand's only fully parasitic flowering plant. It grows attached to the roots of a wide range of hardwood trees and shrubs, often in fire-induced secondary forest on the margin of podocarp-hardwood forest. It is inconstantly dioecious with a skewed sex ratio of approximately 5:1 male to female inflorescences. The inflorescences, especially the males, contain a large quantity of nectar, up to 1.6 mi, and can produce 0.5 mi per day for 10 days.
Biological and physical disturbance has had a severe impact on New Zealand's endemic flora and fauna. Along with the lessons of the past, predicting the sensitivity of communities to disturbance in the future may help direct more attention to those communities with a greater need for preservation (i.e., a lower ability to recover from any such disturbances). In theory it is possible to measure the resilience (or local stability) of a community by constructing a matrix to describe that community and then examining its eigenvalues.
The diets of feral pigs and feral goats shot on the main Auckland Island in 1989 are described from analyses of stomach and rumen contents. Feral goats ate at least 50 species of plants, but only three, Metrosideros umbellata, Chionochloa antarctica, and Durvillea antarctica made up over 50% by dried weight of the food eaten. Feral pigs ate a mixed plant and animal diet, of which plants made up 61% of the diet, with the megaherb Anisotome antipoda being the largest dietary item at 38% by dried weight.
The yellowhead, a forest-dwelling passerine endemic to the South Island of New Zealand, has declined in both abundance and range since the arrival of European settlers last century. In the last 30 years it has all but disappeared from the northern half of the South Island but remains widespread in the south. One possible explanation is that the yellowhead has declined in abundance throughout its range, disappearing from less suitable habitats in which it was never very abundant. To test this hypothesis a habitat suitability index was constructed and northern and southern forests compared.
Species-rich moth faunas at two sites in a montane tussock grassland at Cass show major declines in the abundance of many common species between 1961-63 and 1987-89, furthering a 50- to 70-year trend. The recent faunal record (202 species) is quantified by a 3-point light-trapping methodology based on independence of serial samples, minimised sample variability and a posteriori data standardisation. An historical record of vegetation change is also presented, pointing to a major decline in endemic herb species with the advances of an adventive grass, Agrostis capillaris.