Substantial areas of alpine tall tussock grasslands are being retired from grazing as part of Crown pastoral lease tenure review because of the perceived negative impact of grazing livestock. However, relatively little is known about the effect of sheep exclusion on these grasslands. We analysed data from five grazing exclosure plots over a 6-year period to examine the effect merino sheep have relative to hares and rabbits in alpine tall tussock grasslands used for summer grazing.
Himalayan thar or tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are native to the Himalaya, Europe and Australia, respectively, but are now sympatric in parts of the central Southern Alps, New Zealand. All three species are managed as pests by the Department of Conservation. We analysed the diets of 246 thar, 78 chamois and 113 possums collected in the central Southern Alps during 1988–1996.