Moas, mammals and climate in the ecological history of New Zealand—Preface
- Ecology Division, DSIR, P.O. Box 30379, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
This Supplement to the Society's Journal began life as a Symposium at the 1986 Annual Conference. It was prompted by the growing challenge to some long-standing scientific and management principles which held that New Zealand's flora and vegetation evolved without browsing pressure; that both were peculiarly sensitive to browsing by mammals; and that "accelerated erosion" coincided largely with the date of human colonisation and was sustained by the introduced herbivores. Elements of that challenge emerged in various publications: the origins of divarication in the flora (Greenwood and Atkinson 1977), the role of mammals in erosion (Jane and Green 1983), the impact of climate on the integrity of forest and land (Grant 1984, 1985), and the interplay of science and politics in the management of wild land and introduced mammals (Caughley 1983).
Contributors to the Symposium were asked to consider a series of hypotheses linking fundamental scientific questions to the practical business of managing natural assets:
- the New Zealand flora and vegetation evolved in the absence of herbivores
- the New Zealand flora evolved without defences against browsing
- introduced mammals entered a natural, unbrowsed vegetation
- accelerated erosion coincided with colonisation by browsing mammals
- animal control is beneficial to the stability of the vegetation and the land.