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Ecological Factors Preventing Restoration of Degraded Short Tussock Landscapes in New Zealand’s Dryland Zone

Anna P. Rodrigues
  • Corresponding author
  • New Zealand School of Forestry, College of Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
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/ Elena Moltchanova
  • School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
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/ David A. Norton
  • New Zealand School of Forestry, College of Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
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/ Matthew Turnbull
  • School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
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Published Online: 2017-09-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0048

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.

Keywords : dryland; ecological restoration; seedling; grazing; irrigation

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About the article

Received: 2017-05-24

Accepted: 2017-07-31

Published Online: 2017-09-02

Published in Print: 2017-08-28


Citation Information: Open Agriculture, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 442–452, ISSN (Online) 2391-9531, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0048.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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