New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2009) 33(1): 72- 82

Bone-seed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera) invasion effects on native regeneration in New Zealand coastal plant communities

Research Article
Kate G. McAlpine 1*
Susan M. Timmins 1
Ian Westbrooke 2
  1. Research, Development & Improvement Division, Department of Conservation, PO Box 10-420, Wellington 6143, New Zealand
  2. Research, Development & Improvement Division, Department of Conservation, PO Box 13-049, Christchurch 8141, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Bone-seed, Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera (L.), is an environmental weed of coastal vegetation communities scattered throughout New Zealand. To assess the long-term implications for native forest regeneration in sites where bone-seed is present, we selected four study sites around Wellington, New Zealand, where bone-seed was abundant. We compared seed bank composition in bone-seed-invaded sites with nearby native forest patches, and monitored bone-seed and native seedling recruitment with and without control of mature bone-seed plants. We also tested the potential effects of fire on bone-seed recruitment in these communities by heating seeds prior to germination. Bone-seed, gorse (Ulex europaeus), and native species emerged from seed bank samples taken from bone-seed-invaded sites, but only native species and (less) gorse emerged from seed bank samples taken from native forest patches. Gorse germination was strongly promoted by heat but bone-seed germination was less affected by heat. Bone-seed seedling abundance increased dramatically following canopy removal, whereas native seedling abundance decreased dramatically. This suggests that disturbance of any form is likely to favour recruitment of bone-seed (and gorse) over native species, although in the long term, native seedlings can establish beneath the canopy of mature bone-seed plants. It is not yet known if, in the absence of further disturbance, regenerating native vegetation will eventually replace bone-seed in New Zealand.