Aliens in New Zealand
- Department of Botany and Zoology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
[This is a resume of a paper read at the Ecological Society Conference, 1982.]
For over 100 years there has been a tendency among New Zealand biologists to separate, with some deliberation, 'native' flora and fauna from that introduced by man. The distinction between these two categories is by no means as absolute as tends to be assumed yet difficulties can be averted by use of the word alien. Aliens have been described as "foreign to a locality" (Meurk, 1977) and in this context it has been said "alien animals have been arriving in North America for two million years" (Martin, 1970). This view suggests that many species are aliens at least once and taking the argument one step further even that evolution could be defined as the biology of aliens—a quest by natural selection for new forms which will competitively exclude and replace the old. However, apart from this extension and accepting that aliens are ordinarily regarded as arriving physically and becoming established as ecologically successful colonists, there are distinct sorts of aliens in New Zealand.
1. Those whose transport to New Zealand has not been assisted by man.
2. Those introduced accidentally by man.
3. Those introduced deliberately by man.