Predation by mammals has been identified as the primary limiting factor of Aotearoa New Zealand native birds. Consequently, the ranges of many native forest bird species have contracted to cooler and higher elevation tracts of forest that support fewer introduced mammals. However, lower elevation forests are likely to be intrinsically more productive and able to sustain larger bird populations if control of mammalian pests removes predation as a primary limiting factor.
The diet, population structure and breeding of ship rats (Rattus rattus L.) from Fiordland National Park were assessed from measurements and gut sample analysis of 248 rats trapped between March 2009 and March 2010, following a mast beech seedfall. They consumed many lepidopteran larvae but fewer weta and more vegetative plant matter than in other habitats, as well as beech seed. Birds and mice made up only a relatively small proportion of the diet. A lizard was also confirmed as a prey item of R.
The Humped-back theory of plant species richness, a theory related to Grime's C-S-R 'triangular' model, has been widely discussed, and some evidence has been claimed in support of it. The theory suggests that species richness is maximal at intermediate levels of productivity, i.e., at intermediate positions on a stress/favourability gradient. We sought evidence for the theory from 90 stands of native podocarp/broadleaved and beech forest in the Coastal Otago region, with an adjustment made for the effect of stand area on species richness.
Three pairs of kiwis were fitted with radio transmitters and followed for two years in a forest remnant in Hawke's Bay. Laying began in late June or July, when both sexes reached peak weight, and usually finished in November. Twelve of 14 nests were in burrows, 470-900 mm long. Females laid 2-5 eggs each season, 21-60 days apart; clutches which failed in the first few weeks of incubation were replaced. Completed clutches comprised two eggs. A second clutch laid after the first had successfully hatched was recorded only once.