Ecosystem Fragility

University of Canterbury researchers say they have linked the modern-day decline of a common forest shrub with the local extinction of two pollinating birds — the bellbird and stitchbird — over a century ago. They say the disappearance of the birds from the upper North Island has lead to a slow decline in common plants, including the forest shrub New Zealand gloxinia. Ship rats and stoats imported into the country around the year 187 are blamed for the birds’ demise. The researchers claim the study, published in the journal Science, offers rare experimental proof of a breakdown in a local ecosystem. “This plant is in trouble but it’s a slow motion disaster,” said Professor Dave Kelly, who led the research. “It hasn’t been well pollinated for about the last 14 years – that’s about when these birds disappeared off the North Island. In that time there haven’t been enough seedlings coming through and so the plant is quietly crumbling away, fading away.”


Tags: BBC News  native birds  native plants  

New Zealand Ramps up Plans to Purge All Pests

New Zealand Ramps up Plans to Purge All Pests

There are strains on New Zealand’s environment. In this corner of the South Pacific, waterways are increasingly polluted and, from the suburbs to the alpine peaks, an untold army of feral…