Dodd, M., Barker, G., Burns, B., Didham, R., Innes, J.,…, Watts, C. (2011). Resilience of New Zealand indigenous forest fragments to impacts of livestock and pest mammals. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 35(1), 83-95.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5200
A number of factors have combined to diminish ecosystem integrity in New Zealand indigenous lowland forest fragments surrounded by intensively grazed pasture. Livestock grazing, mammalian pests, adventive weeds and altered nutrient input regimes are important drivers compounding the changes in fragment structure and function due to historical deforestation and fragmentation. We used qualitative systems modelling and empirical data from Beilschmiedia tawa dominated lowland forest fragments in the Waikato Region to explore the relevance of two common resilience paradigms – engineering resilience and ecological resilience – for addressing the conservation management of forest fragments into the future. Grazing by livestock and foraging/predation by introduced mammalian pests both have direct detrimental impacts on key structural and functional attributes of forest fragments. Release from these perturbations through fencing and pest control leads to partial or full recovery of some key indicators (i.e. increased indigenous plant regeneration and cover, increased invertebrate populations and litter mass, decreased soil fertility and increased nesting success) relative to levels seen in larger forest systems over a range of timescales. These changes indicate that forest fragments do show resilience consistent with adopting an engineering resilience paradigm for conservation management, in the landscape context studied. The relevance of the ecological resilience paradigm in these ecosystems is obscured by limited data. We characterise forest fragment dynamics in terms of changes in indigenous species occupancy and functional dominance, and present a conceptual model for the management of forest fragment ecosystems.
New Zealand Ecological Society
This article has been published in the journal: New Zealand Journal of Ecology. © New Zealand Ecological Society. Used with permission.