New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2004) 28(2): 181- 194

Successional processes induced by fires on the northern offshore islands of New Zealand

Research Article
Ian A.E. Atkinson  
  1. Ecological Research Associates of New Zealand Inc., P.O. Box 48 147, Silverstream, Upper Hutt 6430, New Zealand

Major trends in forest successions following fires are identified for northern offshore islands of New Zealand. Data are from the author’s observations over several decades, and published descriptions. Islands studied extend from the Cavalli group in the north to the Aldermen group in the south. Their original vegetation was largely destroyed by human-induced fires. Successions that followed were dominated for several centuries by pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) or, for a shorter time, by kanuka (Kunzea ericoides). Compared with other seral species, pohutukawa retards the rate at which a diverse community can develop. This should be recognised when restoring an island that has lost most of its woody vegetation.