New Zealand

Stoat density, diet and survival compared between alpine grassland and beech forest habitats

In New Zealand, alpine grasslands occur above the treeline of beech forest. Historically stoat control paradigms in New Zealand’s montane natural areas have assumed alpine grassland is a marginal habitat that limits dispersal between beech forest stoat populations. We compared the summer-to-autumn (January–April) density, weight, diet and winter survival of stoats between these two habitatsduring years of low beech seedfall.

New Zealand’s historically rare terrestrial ecosystems set in a physical and physiognomic framework

Terrestrial ecosystems that were rare before human colonisation of New Zealand often have highly specialised and diverse flora and fauna characterised by endemic and nationally rare species. Although many of these ecosystems are under threat from anthropogenic modification and their biodiversity values are declining, they still are not adequately identified by current land classifications. We compiled a list of 72 rare ecosystems from the literature and by canvassing New Zealand ecologists and land managers. Rare ecosystems are defined as those having a total extent less than 0.5% (i.e.

Site conditions affect seedling distribution below and outside the crown of kauri trees (Agathis australis)

It has been suggested that plants can change soil characteristics via their litter to favour their own species. The New Zealand kauri tree (Agathis australis) presents an interesting case for studying such a positive feedback between plant and soil because it has a huge impact upon the soil. We hypothesised that, under mature kauri trees, compared with sites outside the projection of the crown, seedlings of angiosperm trees are relatively rare, while kauri seedlings are relatively common, due to the poor soil conditions and the higher light intensity.

Kauri trees (Agathis australis) affect nutrient, water and light availability for their seedlings

Plants can change the soil that they grow on, for example by producing litter. If litter characteristics are such that their effect on the soil increases a plant's fitness, a positive feedback can develop between the plant and the soil. Several studies indicate that New Zealand kauri trees (Agathis australis) lower the availability of nutrients in the soil beneath their crown. Low nutrient availability would be positive for the survival of kauri seedlings as they are known to use nutrients more efficiently than angiosperm species.

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