Woody plants in arid and semi-arid environments may enhance soil nutrient status, the so-called ‘fertile island’ effect, but this mechanism has never been tested in the drylands of New Zealand. In this study I investigated effects of Kunzea serotina, Discaria toumatou, Rosa rubiginosa, and Coprosma propinqua on soil properties in the drylands of central Otago, New Zealand. Soils had significantly higher organic matter under C. propinqua and significantly higher nitrate and phosphorus concentrations under K.
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.
This paper reviews current knowledge of dynamic processes in New Zealand land-water ecotones drawing on published quantitative data wherever possible. Basic ecosystem processes in forested and natural unforested land-water ecotones are compared, and dynamic processes are discussed under the following headings: time scales of change; water movement; sediment trapping and transport; dissolved nutrient dynamics; dissolved oxygen; trophic interactions.
The improvement of New Zealands pastures over the last 150 years has increased the nutrient status of the soil as a result of the application of fertiliser, an increased soil organic matter content and increased biological activity. The grazing animal has also influenced the nutrient status of the soil by increasing the rate at which nutrients cycle between the soil, plants and animals.
The impact of discharging an oxidation pond effluent into a wetland in the Waitangi Forest (Northland) was assessed by comparing the water, soil, and vegetation of this wetland (the sewage wetland) with that of an adjacent wetland not receiving effluent (the reference wetland). The hydroperiod of the two wetlands differs markedly with the sewage wetland now permanently flooded whereas the reference wetland is subject to summer drawdown. Marked differences were found in gross chemical indicators such as pH and redox potential between the soils of the 2 wetlands.
Leaf lifespan varies widely among plant species, from a few weeks to >40 years. This variation is associated with differences in plant form and function, and the distribution of species along resource gradients. Longer leaf lifespans increase the residence time of nutrients and are one mechanism by which plants conserve nutrients; consequently, leaf lifespan should increase within species with declining soil nutrient availability. The Franz Josef chronosequence is a series of post-glacial surfaces along which soil fertility declines strongly with increasing soil age.
New Zealand’s offshore and outlying islands have long been a focus of conservation biology as sites