1 results for Arnold, GC

  • Effects of forest fragment management on vegetation condition and maintenance of canopy composition in a New Zealand pastoral landscape

    Burns, Bruce; Floyd, CG; Smale, MC; Arnold, GC (2010)

    Journal article
    The University of Auckland Library

    Residual forest fragments in areas dominated by pastoral agriculture can have high value for biodiversity conservation but are still subject to ongoing degradation as (i) processes initiated by fragmentation continue to operate, for example, changes in canopy replacement probabilities; and (ii) deleterious processes impinge upon them from the surrounding matrix, for example, browsing and trampling by vagrant livestock. Responses by management to slow or reverse these processes require evaluation. Stock (mainly cattle and sheep) exclusion by fencing and mammal pest (mainly Trichosurus vulpecula (brushtail possum)) control are currently used as management tools to maintain or improve the vegetation condition of fragments in New Zealand. We examined the effectiveness of these tools by sampling vegetation composition, forest structure and regeneration of woody species in 41 old-growth fragments dominated by Beilschmiedia tawa, selected to populate a factorial design that included four different fencing classes (unfenced, fenced 2–10, 10–20 and >20 years ago), with and without sustained mammal pest control. Fencing for more than 10 years led to higher abundances of native ground ferns and shrubs, and lower abundances and numbers of mostly adventive herbaceous ground cover species. In contrast, lianes were less abundant with mammal pest control, whereas herbs were more abundant. Fencing led to a high-density pulse of seedlings and saplings of woody species within 10 years that then thinned. Mammal pest control allowed increases in abundance of some species palatable to T. vulpecula, and increased the ratio of canopy to subcanopy seedlings in the regeneration pulse caused by fencing. Neither treatment, however, led to the restoration of indigenous species richness to reference forest levels, nor allowed densities of juveniles of shade-tolerant canopy species to establish to levels commensurate with replacement of existing canopy trees. Most woody seedlings that established following fencing were of short-lived subcanopy species.These management actions will therefore slow but not reverse the long-term degradation of these forest fragments, which will eventually differ substantially from continuous forest under current management regimes. Additional measures such as replanting may be necessary not only to ensure replacement of some current species but also to restore lost species.

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