Globally, lowland forests have been depleted, fragmented, and degraded by land clearance and conversion by humans. Many remnants are also invaded by non-native plants and mammals, which can exacerbate biodiversity loss and impede ecosystem recovery. We examined the effects of non-native ground cover weeds and mammals on the seedling recruitment of native woody plants in lowland forests in northern New Zealand by following establishment over 2 years at sites experiencing different levels of weed cover, with or without supplemental seed addition, and with or without mammal exclusion.
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.
The role of backcountry huts as focal points for weed establishment and spread into New Zealand’s national parks has received little attention. In this study we describe the pattern of weed spread around Takahe Valley Hut, Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park. Established in 1948, the hut is located at 900 m a.s.l. at the ecotone between Nothofagus forest and valley floor shrubland/grassland. We recorded the distribution of vascular plants in quadrats (110) placed by restricted randomisation around the hut, and measured relative irradiance and distance from the hut.
The establishment and subsequent impacts of invasive plant species often involve interactions or feedbacks with the below-ground subsystem. We compared the performance of planted tree seedlings and soil communities in three ectomycorrhizal tree species at Craigieburn, Canterbury, New Zealand – two invasive species (Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir; Pinus contorta, lodgepole pine) and one native (Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides, mountain beech) – in monodominant stands. We studied mechanisms likely to affect growth and survival, i.e.
The dominant native woody species forming early-successional vegetation on formerly forested sites in lowland New Zealand were kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) and mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) (Myrtaceae). These have been replaced extensively by gorse (Ulex europaeus, Fabaceae), a naturalised species in New Zealand. Because gorse typically gives way to native broadleaved (angiosperm) forest in about 30 years, it is often considered desirable for facilitating native forest restoration.