Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) tend to eat young canopy foliage in southern rātā (Metrosideros umbellata), and browsing tends to be concentrated on only a few trees.
We sampled soils and vegetation within and outside two sheep and rabbit exclosures, fenced in 1979, on steep sunny and shady slopes at 770 m altitude on seasonally-dry pastoral steeplands. The vegetation of sunny aspects was characterised by higher floristic diversity, annual species, and low plant cover. Here the exotic grass Anthoxanthum odoratum dominated on grazed treatments, and the exotic forb Hieracium pilosella on ungrazed. Shady aspects supported fewer, and almost entirely perennial, species.
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).