Conservation strategy for maintaining and protecting tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), a rare endemic reptile from New Zealand, includes the reinstatement of populations through the past historical range. A proposal exists to translocate tuatara from Stephens Island in Cook Strait to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary (Te Korowai o Mihiwaka), a coastal site in southern New Zealand. The proposed site is within the former latitudinal range of the genus, but lies outside the current distribution of tuatara, where the climate is warmer.
A review of pest-exclusion fences throughout New Zealand shows that the goals of fence projects are frequently not achieved and cost-benefit analyses often do not adequately quantify ongoing costs. The creation of these sanctuaries enclosed by predator-proof fences often creates small expensive zoos surrounded by degraded habitat that will never be able to sustain the animal and plant species contained within the fence.
Opportunities now exist to establish pest-free areas on the mainland of New Zealand by eradicating introduced mammals from within predator-proof-fenced areas. This has increased opportunities to investigate how the native insect fauna responds to the eradication of introduced mammals. We examined the response of weta populations to mammal eradication in a before-after-control-impact (BACI) experiment within the southern exclosure on Maungatautari.
The contribution of exotic plantation forests to the conservation of New Zealand’s flora and fauna is a somewhat controversial issue, partly because the establishment of some plantations involved the conversion of indigenous vegetation. Such conversion no longer occurs within the professional forest industry and there is a growing appreciation of the contribution of ‘production’ land, including plantation forests, to the protection of New Zealand’s unique indigenous biodiversity.
Reintroduction programmes need to be monitored as a way of gauging potential causes of their success or failure. This, in turn, can be used to improve the likelihood of future translocation success. Since the 1990s, stitchbird (or hihi: Notiomystis cincta) translocations have been intensively monitored, with comparisons between two of these projects (Tiritiri Matangi Island – a successful introduction, and Mokoia Island – an unsuccessful introduction) often compared and contrasted as a means of identifying factors important in translocation success for this species.
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.
We outline the scope of this special issue of New Zealand Journal of Ecology, which reviews progress in New Zealand ecology to 2009, based on a symposium in 2007. Both the issue and symposium update a 1986 conference and 1989 special issue of NZ J Ecol called “Moas, Mammals and Climate” which has been influential and widely cited.
Species composition patterns and vegetation–environment relationships were quantified for montane volcanic outcrops on Banks Peninsula. The flora of these habitat islands comprises 346 vascular plant species including 82 exotic species and 52 species that are nationally rare, regionally rare, or regional endemics. Both MDS ordination analysis and TWINSPAN results illustrated the high compositional and environmental heterogeneity across the outcrops.
The stomach contents of 158 hedgehogs captured at Macraes Flat, Otago, New Zealand, over two summers in 2000 and 2001 were examined for the occurrence of lizards. The remains of at least 43 skinks (both Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma and O. maccanni) and one gecko (Hoplodactylus sp.) were found. Twenty-one percent (n = 33; 8 males and 25 females) of the examined hedgehogs had fed on skinks. Female hedgehogs ate significantly more skinks than did males.