The theory of population regulation predicts that threatened species are safest at high population numbers, partly because density-dependent compensatory mechanisms counteract unpredictable disturbances. We illustrate this principle using data from the endemic kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) populations in the North Island, New Zealand. First we calculate the fledging rate per female (production) necessary to stabilise the population and thereby the residual numbers of nest predators, namely ship rats and possums, which have to be achieved to reach this production.
The data of Lloyd (1971) on the 'chosen tree' and 'chosen seedlings' in 5607 4 x 4 m plots in Russell forest are analysed using a simple transition matrix model. The most realistic analysis predicts little change in relative species composition, other than a slight increase in the softwoods. The virtue of the approach lies more in the questions it raises than in the predictions obtained. Before such models can be applied satisfactorily in New Zealand basic data on seedling survival, tree growth rates and average life spans are required for most indigenous species.