The effects of environment and management on the composition of short-tussock grasslands and the abundance of the invasive weed Hieracium pilosella were investigated in two small catchments. Species composition and site factors were recorded on a total of 182 plots and the management history of each catchment was reviewed. H. pilosella was present on >80% of all plots, but was at an early stage of invasion in one catchment (<5% cover) and dominant in the other (25% cover).
Biological invasions have significantly affected New Zealand’s native species and ecosystems. Most prominent are the effects of exotic mammals and plants, whereas few invertebrate invasions are known to have major effects on native ecosystems. Exceptions are the well-known cases of Vespula wasps in Nothofagus forest ecosystems and Eriococcus scale insects in Leptospermum shrublands. This limited impact is surprising because over 2000 exotic invertebrates have become established in New Zealand, among them many pests of exotic crop plants.