Declines in native birds in New Zealand have raised questions about whether seed dispersal limits plant regeneration and whether introduced mammals such as brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) can replace absent native birds. We determined the relative contribution to seed dispersal by birds and possums in native secondary forest at Kowhai Bush, Kaikoura. The number of seeds dispersed per hectare per day by each animal species was determined based on the number of seeds per faecal pellet, the number of faecal pellets per animal per day, and the density of animals per hectare.
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.
Times necessary for development of ripe seed in some species of Hebe are reported together with the results of experiments investigating the effects of light and temperature on germination and the duration and periodicity of viability of seeds
The dispersal, germination and establishment of the New Zealand Loranthaceae (Alepis flavida, Peraxilla colensoi, P. tetrapetala, Ileostylus micranthus and Tupeia antarctica) were investigated. The most important bird dispersers were tui, bellbirds and silvereyes. These birds appear to provide reasonably good quality dispersal: fruits were swallowed whole and the seeds later defecated in germinable condition; birds tended to visit plants for only 1-2 minutes and eat a few mistletoe fruits each time.
Introduced feral pigs (Sus scrofa) include native fruit and seed in their diet, and thus may act as seed dispersers if seeds are passed intact. The aim of this study was to determine whether pigs consume, and subsequently disperse, intact seeds of the New Zealand native tree matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia). Two captive pigs were fed 100 ripe fruit of matai and their faeces were checked for seeds for 4 days. Fourteen intact seeds (14%) were recovered and 57% of these germinated under glasshouse conditions, comparable with germination from hand-cleaned seeds.
Worldwide declines in bird numbers have recently renewed interest in how well bird–plant mutualisms are functioning. In New Zealand, it has been argued that bird pollination was relatively unimportant and bird pollination failure was unlikely to threaten any New Zealand plants, whereas dispersal mutualisms were widespread and in some cases potentially at risk because of reliance on a single large frugivore, the kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). Work since 1989, however, has changed that assessment.
Bone-seed, Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera (L.), is an environmental weed of coastal vegetation communities scattered throughout New Zealand. To assess the long-term implications for native forest regeneration in sites where bone-seed is present, we selected four study sites around Wellington, New Zealand, where bone-seed was abundant. We compared seed bank composition in bone-seed-invaded sites with nearby native forest patches, and monitored bone-seed and native seedling recruitment with and without control of mature bone-seed plants.