New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2003) 27(1): 31- 36

Vegetation change after artificial disturbance in an alpine Chionochloa pallens grassland in New Zealand

Research Article
Kelvin M. Lloyd 1,*
William G. Lee 1
Michael Fenner 2
Abi E. Loughnan 3
  1. Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, U.K.
  3. Botany Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

We describe the colonisation of artificially created gaps in an alpine grassland dominated by Chionochloa pallens. Twelve years after their creation, the 50 cm _ 50 cm gaps supported a distinctive vegetation composed of a mixture of perennial forbs, grasses and mosses. Three species (Bryum sp., Epilobium alsinoides and Plantago novae-zelandiae) were recorded only in the gaps. Plantago novae-zelandiae and Polytrichum juniperinum had their highest frequency in the centres of the gaps, while Celmisia gracilenta and Geranium microphyllum were most frequent at the edges. The distinctive species composition of the gap plots indicates that they are still in an early stage of succession, assuming an eventual reversion to the surrounding climax grassland.