New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2019) 43(1): 3361

The first recorded interaction between two species separated for centuries suggests they were ecological competitors

Short Communication
Helen R. Taylor 1*
Nicola J. Nelson 2
Kristina M. Ramstad 3
  1. Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Parade, Kelburn, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. Department of Biology & Geology, University of South Carolina Aiken, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC, USA
*  Corresponding author

Human-induced reductions in species’ ranges have resulted in the geographic separation of some previously sympatric species that interacted historically. Some previously co-occurring species are now being reconnected via translocation. However, interactions between these species can be difficult to predict, particularly in extreme instances where all populations of previously co-occurring species have become completely separated from each other. Here, we present video footage that, for the first time, captures an interaction between two species separated for centuries due to human disturbance, but that are now being reconnected via translocations; little spotted kiwi (LSK) (Apteryx owenii) and tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus). The video shows an aggressive interaction, apparently caused by competition for a burrow being used by the LSK for nesting. This footage suggests we have much to learn about how these species may have co-existed prior to human arrival in New Zealand.