Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ecological factors preventing restoration of degraded short tussock landscapes in New Zealand's dryland zone.

Abstract

Biotic factors such as the presence of invasive animal and/or plant species are well known as major causes of ecological degradation and as limiting either natural or assisted (human-induced) ecological restoration. However, abiotic aspects of the landscape, such as water availability and soil physical/chemical conditions can also potentially limit restoration and should be considered. Dryland ecosystems are amongst the world's most threatened and least protected. New Zealand's drylands have been drastically changed, initially through burning, agricultural and grazing practices and the impacts of introduced herbivores and plants. This research aimed at identifying some of the key environmental factors preventing the reestablishment of native woody species in a New Zealand dryland ecosystem. The experiments involved a combination of shading, irrigation and grazing exclusion. The results showed that supplemental water was not beneficial for the survival and growth of the native seedlings, unless combined with shade. Fencing proved important for establishment, even though the species used are regarded in the literature as unpalatable to herbivores. The results indicated that the presence of shade was fundamental for the establishment and growth of the native seedlings likely due to improvements in the microclimate, soil aeration, and water availability to seedlings.