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The Possum and Rata-Kamahi Dieback in New Zealand: A Review

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Title:The Possum and Rata-Kamahi Dieback in New Zealand: A Review
Authors:Batcheler, C.L.
Date Issued:Oct 1983
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Batcheler CL. 1983. The possum and rata-kamahi dieback in New Zealand: a review. Pac Sci 37 (4): 415-426
Abstract:Browsing by the introduced Australian brush-tailed possum
(Trichosurus vulpecula) has been generally accepted in New Zealand during
the past 30 yr as the principal cause of damage to hardwood forests dominated
by rata (Metrosideros spp.) and kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa). Recently,
this view has been challenged, and assertions have been made that the forests
in a North Island tract were in poor order before possums invaded, that their
natural collapse was only a matter of time, and that there is ample evidence
relating the more dramatic changes in South Island forests to geological and
meteorological events. In this paper, the evidence for repeated coincidence of
increase of possum numbers and spectacular modification of the forests is
reexamined. Such coincidences, the continued good health of montane hardwood
forests where possums have not attained high numbers, and some
experimental data, lead to the conclusion that the possum is responsible for
dieback in rata-kamahi forests. Control of possums is therefore vital if the
forests are to be maintained.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 37, Number 4, 1983

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