New Zealand forests have been and are shaped by a suite of disturbance types that vary in both their spatial extent and frequency of recurrence. Post-disturbance forest dynamics can be complex, non-linear, and involve multiple potential pathways depending on the nature of a perturbation, site conditions, and history. To capture the full range of spatial and temporal dynamics that shape forest ecosystems in a given area, we need to use and synthesise data sources that collectively capture all the relevant space-time scales.
In most regions of the world removal of environmental stress facilitates regeneration of native plants and habitats. However, in many of New Zealands modified landscapes, exotic species are likely to respond first to any reduction in stress because these fast-growing species are prevalent in local vegetation and dominate seed banks.
Litterfall reflects forest productivity and is an important pathway of nutrient cycling in forests. We quantified litter quantity, nutrient concentrations, and decomposability for 22 permanently marked plots that included gradients of altitude (a range of 320–780 m), soil nutrients and past disturbance in a cool temperate evergreen montane rain forest in the western South Island of New Zealand.