Biological and physical disturbance has had a severe impact on New Zealand's endemic flora and fauna. Along with the lessons of the past, predicting the sensitivity of communities to disturbance in the future may help direct more attention to those communities with a greater need for preservation (i.e., a lower ability to recover from any such disturbances). In theory it is possible to measure the resilience (or local stability) of a community by constructing a matrix to describe that community and then examining its eigenvalues.
An account is given of the vegetation of Flat Top Hill, in the driest part of semi-arid lowland Central Otago, New Zealand. Although highly modified, the area was acquired for conservation in 1992, following almost 150 years of pastoral use. The vegetation was sampled in a composite scheme using permanent monitoring sites placed to include the majority of habitats and communities present. A number of environmental factors were measured in each sample. Native species comprise 53% of the vascular flora of the area (211 species).
“A freezing chamber offers an easy place for such [frost] experiments... and ... valuable data as to the cold-resisting powers of our plants might be arrived at” (Cockayne, 1897).
Habitat use of a forest bird community was studied in temperate rainforests in South Westland, New Zealand between 1983 and 1985. This paper examines foraging methods, feeding stations and seasonal variations in the availability and use of food types and provides a brief review of the subject. The forest bird community was comprised of a large number of apparently generalist feeders and few dietary specialists. However, the degree of foraging specialisation should not be viewed only in relation to the food types consumed.
A range of slack vegetation in southern New Zealand was described by detailed sampling of four dune slacks, contrasting in topographic situation and in vegetation. Comparison is made with a slack previously sampled on Stewart Island. The five slacks differed markedly in the plant communities present. One slack, where there was considerable peat accumulation, was dominated by the megaherb Phormium tenax and the restiad Leptocarpus similis.
Bio-dynamic control involves burning pest tissue or organs and spreading the ash on areas to be protected. In New Zealand, bio-dynamic methods have been suggested for repelling possums where they damage forests or spread disease. We assessed the repellent effects of five bio-dynamic tinctures. First we tested these materials on possums in pens and noted their effects on foraging behaviour, food consumption, and body weight. Then we monitored bait consumption from treated and untreated feeder stations in the field.
Historical and recent records indicate that kiwi are less numerous and widespread in Hawke's Bay than they used to be. The birds are still scattered throughout the ranges to the west and north of the region, usually at densities of about one bird per 100 ha. Kiwi have now almost completely disappeared from their former lowland habitats. The decline of kiwi in Hawke's Bay may have started before European settlement, but has been particularly rapid in the last 70 years. RePeat surveys of three populations between 1984 and 1990-91 indicate that the decline is continuing.
Collections of gannet regurgitations at most of New Zealand's gannetries allowed the identification of major components in the gannet diet and an estimate of the total annual consumption of the most important prey species. Major species were pilchard (Sardinops neopilchardus), anchovy (Engraulis australis), saury (Scomberesox saurus), and jack mackerel (Trachurus novaezelandiae).
Low acceptance of protein baits by common (Vespula vulgaris) and German (V. germanica) wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) occurred after rain in honeydew beech forest. This corresponded with a sharp decrease in the proportion of natural protein in the diet of V. vulgaris and V. germanica, and a reduction in the concentration of carbohydrate-rich honeydew in the crops of foraging wasps carrying liquid.
A plant sociological survey of tall-tussock grasslands in the Mackenzie country was repeated after an interval of 26-28 years. Changes in physiognomy of the grasslands which have been inferred from earlier studies have been found to be continuing on many sites. A noteworthy feature of most sites has been a reduction in number of indigenous species found. An increase in abundance of Hieracium pilosella or H. praealtum has occurred at most sites.