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Ecology and conservation of Alseuosmia quercifolia (Alseuosmiaceae) in the Waikato region, New Zealand

The ecology of Alseuosmia quercifolia, a small endemic shrub, was investigated, focussing on its habitat requirements, population dynamics, phenology and reproductive biology, and conservation status. This species occurs most commonly in lowland native forests of the Waikato region of the North Island (north of latitude 38°05'S), but is also found in scattered populations to North Cape. In the Waikato region it typically occupies shady, well-drained, south or south-east facing lower slopes of hills and ranges at altitudes below 400 m. Population structures show considerable variation amongst seven study sites in the Waikato region, with disjunct size classes a reflection of the presence and abundance of introduced browsing mammals. It is a relatively short-lived (less than 50 years), slow-growing species with a fleshy fruit adapted to bird dispersal, but seed dispersal now appears to be primarily by gravity. Flowering occurs early in spring and is synchronous at both individual and population levels, occurring over a 5-week period, with peak flowering during the second and third weeks. While all populations set seed, reproductive output can be negatively affected by persistent browse and by rain during peak flowering. This species is vulnerable because it is highly palatable to introduced mammals and all plants in a population are within browse height. It has relatively narrow habitat specificity, localised distribution, and limited potential to extend its range. We suggest it fulfils the requirements of the category "declining", using the most recent classification of threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
M. F. Merrett, M. F., Clarkson, B. D., & Bathgate, J. L. (2002). Ecology and conservation of Alseuosmia quercifolia (Alseuosmiaceae) in the Waikato region, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany. 40(1), 49-63.
SIR Publishing
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, New Zealand Journal of Botany, 40(1), (2002), (c) Royal Society of New Zealand at the Royal Society of New Zealand Journals Online webpage.