In a Festuca novae-zelandiae short tussock grassland in South Island, New Zealand, we tested the propositions (1) that present regional trends in vascular plant species-richness in tussock grasslands are independent of current pastoral management, and (2) that grazing retards the invasion and dominance of nonnative species, particularly where soil resources are not limiting. Sheep and rabbit-grazed, ungrazed, ungrazed+fertilised and ungrazed+irrigated treatments were applied in a replicated experiment that was sampled annually from 1988 to 2000.
The rate of spread of mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) patches, the effect of hawkweed on soil properties, and the nutrient content of hawkweed biomass was investigated on grazed unfertilised land on Glencairn Station (altitude 440 m, mean annual rainfall 500-600 mm) in the Mackenzie basin, southern South Island, New Zealand. Pallic soils (Typic Ustochrepts) under hawkweed patches and under surrounding herbfield were analysed for exchangeable cations, organic C and total N. Total nutrients in hawkweed and herbfield biomass were measured.
Possible control options are investigated for the introduced Hieracium weeds, particular problems in South Island high country, New Zealand. In a pot experiment regression of input to output ratios of above ground biomass over successive harvests, from binary mixtures was used to determine the competitive interaction between 13 pasture species and two Hieracium species, H. pilosella and H. praealtum, in a low fertility soil. Treatments also included a factorial of presence or absence of compartments separating root and shoots of species.
Hieracium, or hawkweed species, serious weeds in South Island high country, may be controlled by appropriate pastoral management. Experimental trials at Lake Tekapo, related to S and P fertiliser rates of 0-100 kg ha-1 yr-1, 27 different combinations of over-drilled and resident species and different seasons or intensities of grazing treatments on Hieracium dominated fescue tussock were conducted. These were monitored for 9 years in terms of fertiliser inputs used, sheep stocking rates, and vegetation changes.
Species abundance, species richness, and ground cover were measured over 10 years on nine paired grazed and exclosure plots in short-tussock grassland in the early stages of invasion by Hieracium species. With and without grazing, H. pilosella and H. caespitosum increased markedly and H. lepidulum increased locally. In contrast, 50% of all other common species and species groups, and total, native, and exotic species richness declined significantly.