Article

Faunal and floral remains from Earnscleugh Cave, Central Otago, New Zealand

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Abstract

Earnscleugh Cave, near Alexandra in Central Otago, was excavated in order to recover and date faunal and floral remains and to provide a palaeoenvironmental analysis. The pollen analysis showed that a complex vegetation community, comprising a dense scrub with local stands of podcarps, grew around the cave during the late Holocene and before Polynesian deforestation. The results from Earnscleugh Cave suggest that at this time permanent water‐courses on the flanks of Central Otago ranges supported diverse and rich plant communities of forest and shrubland. The cave fauna included moas Euiyapteryx geranoides. Emeus crassus and Dinornis giganteus, goose Cnemiornis calcitrans, Finsch's duck Euryanas finschi, kea Nestor notabilis, rifleman Acanthisitta chloris, robin Petroica austrailis, tuatara Sphenodon sp. and greater short‐tailed bat Mystacina cf. robusta.

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... The next advances in understanding the vegetation history were made with palynology. Clark et al. (1996) concluded that late Holocene vegetation was mainly a smallleaved shrubland (with important Coprosma and Muehlenbeckia), but also with small stands of open woodland (including Sophora, Plagianthus, and probably Kunzea) and, based on "substantial" amounts of podocarp pollen (up to c. 20%), patches of tall podocarp forest (with Prumnopitys taxifolia, P. ferruginea, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, Podocarpus, and perhaps Dacrydium cupressinum) may have existed. A later palynological study (McGlone and Moar, 1998) also concluded that late Holocene vegetation was dominated by shrublands. ...
... Sophora pollen was not mentioned at all by McGlone et al. (1995) in any of the three upland sites they investigated, or by McGlone and Moar (1998) in five, mostly lower and drier sites. However, in the mid-slope Earnscleugh Cave, Sophora pollen was absent before 1552 years BP, but later reached a maximum of <5% before vanishing again (Clark et al., 1996). As this peak was stratigraphically about halfway between the 1552 BP date and the present, the peak might coincide with the onset of anthropogenic burning. ...
... The Sophora-dominant vegetation developed in an essentially fire-free environment. Although palynology and soil charcoals make it clear that fires did burn there throughout the mid-late Holocene (Clark et al., 1996;McGlone et al., 1995), there were likely areas where fire was entirely absent (McGlone, 2001). Where fires did occur, it appears that they had such long return intervals, that pre-existing vegetation typically grew back (Rogers et al., 2005), and as these authors emphasized, fires were not frequent enough to maintain extensive grasslands. ...
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Looks at Holocene leaf cuticle in rock overhangs and moa coprolites.
... Other than Podocarpus hallii, tall podocarp species were likely to have been almost entirely absent from the drier inland districts of Central Otago and south Canterbury. It is possible that occasional small stands grew in damp gorges, as suggested by Clark et al. (1996), but there is no direct evidence that they did so. ...
... Nothofagus menziesii forest extended out to the east in the montane zone of the Eyre, Garvie, Umbrella and Blue Mountains and the east Otago uplands. More isolated but still extensive tracts occurred on the Longwood Range in western Southland, and the Catlins district in coastal southeastern Southland (Wardle, 1984;McGlone et al., 1996). ...
... Idaburn Valley, the driest lowland area investigated (mean annual rainfall c. 400 mm yr -1 ), was in an open shrubland-grassland, with an unusual amount of local Asteraceae (mainly Taraxacum magellanicum, Raoulia and small-leaved Olearia shrub types), with Phyllocladus and Podocarpus hallii scrub-forest on the adjacent slopes ( Fig. 4c; McGlone and Moar, 1998). At Earnscleugh Cave, northern Old Man Range, a Muehlenbeckia-Coprosma-Myrsine shrubland with small areas of grassland formed the vegetation cover on the lower slopes at an altitude of 540 m ( Fig. 4b; Clark et al., 1996). In the Kawerau Gorge (mean annual rainfall, 500-600 mm yr -1 ), a low forest of Phyllocladus, Halocarpus and Podocarpus hallii, and Coprosma and Myrsine scrub co-existed with patches of largely non-Chionochloa grassland (McGlone et al., 1995). ...
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Immediately before human settlement, dense tall podocarp-angiosperm forest dominated the moist Southland and southern coastal Otago districts. Open, discontinuous podocarp-angiosperm forest bordered the central Otago dry interior, extending along the north Otago coast. Grassland was mostly patchy within these woody ecosystems, occurring on limited areas of droughty or low-nutrient soils and wetlands, or temporarily after infrequent fire or other disturbance. Podocarpus hallii, Phyllocladus alpinus and Halocarpus bidwillii, small- leaved and asterad shrubs formed low forest and shrub associations in the semi arid interior, with Nothofagus menziesii prominent in the upper montane-subalpine zone. Substantial grasslands were confined to the alpine zone and dry terraces in intermontane basins. The arrival of the first Maori settlers at c. 800 BP led immediately to widespread burning and near-elimination of the fire-sensitive woody vegetation from all but the wettest districts. Non-Chionochloa grasses (probably species of Poa, Elymus and Festuca ) and, in particular, bracken were the first to spread after fire; later, with continued fire, the more slowly spreading Chionochloa tussock grasslands became common. A unique suite of dryland woody ecosystems has thus been replaced with fire-induced grasslands. Recreation of the pre-human vegetation cover from the surviving small remnants is problematical because of the anomalous fire-sensitivity of the indigenous drought-tolerant flora. In the current historically unprecedented fire-prone environment, perhaps the best that can be hoped for is preservation of the status quo.
... The next advances in understanding the vegetation history were made with palynology. Clark et al. (1996) concluded that late Holocene vegetation was mainly a smallleaved shrubland (with important Coprosma and Muehlenbeckia), but also with small stands of open woodland (including Sophora, Plagianthus, and probably Kunzea) and, based on "substantial" amounts of podocarp pollen (up to c. 20%), patches of tall podocarp forest (with Prumnopitys taxifolia, P. ferruginea, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, Podocarpus, and perhaps Dacrydium cupressinum) may have existed. A later palynological study (McGlone and Moar, 1998) also concluded that late Holocene vegetation was dominated by shrublands. ...
... Sophora pollen was not mentioned at all by McGlone et al. (1995) in any of the three upland sites they investigated, or by McGlone and Moar (1998) in five, mostly lower and drier sites. However, in the mid-slope Earnscleugh Cave, Sophora pollen was absent before 1552 years BP, but later reached a maximum of <5% before vanishing again (Clark et al., 1996). As this peak was stratigraphically about halfway between the 1552 BP date and the present, the peak might coincide with the onset of anthropogenic burning. ...
... The Sophora-dominant vegetation developed in an essentially fire-free environment. Although palynology and soil charcoals make it clear that fires did burn there throughout the mid-late Holocene (Clark et al., 1996;McGlone et al., 1995), there were likely areas where fire was entirely absent (McGlone, 2001). Where fires did occur, it appears that they had such long return intervals, that pre-existing vegetation typically grew back (Rogers et al., 2005), and as these authors emphasized, fires were not frequent enough to maintain extensive grasslands. ...
... The cave is at a higher altitude (c. 540 m) than the gorge sites and details of the site and stratigraphy are given by Clark et al. (1996). Pollen stratigraphy and dates on bones from Earnscleugh Cave indicate the sediments in the site are also of Late Holocene age (Clark et al. 1996;Worthy 1998). ...
... 540 m) than the gorge sites and details of the site and stratigraphy are given by Clark et al. (1996). Pollen stratigraphy and dates on bones from Earnscleugh Cave indicate the sediments in the site are also of Late Holocene age (Clark et al. 1996;Worthy 1998). The sampled coprolite is from the Otago Museum collections (Av10436) and is one of several that were probably collected during the original excavations at Earnscleugh Cave in the early 1870s (e.g. ...
... Cockburn-Hood (1874) noted, 'The flat ground near had probably been a favourite camping ground, from the quantity of droppings-which are, no doubt, those of the large birds-swept in by the wind.' Based on the stratigraphic description of the cave given by Clark et al. (1996), and the fact moa coprolites usually occur in organic-rich sediment layers, we believe it is most likely that the coprolites were from the organic 'Layer 3', situated stratigraphically above an owl bone dated to 1552 ± 68 14 C yrs BP. ...
Article
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Palynological analysis of coprolites (preserved dung) can reveal detailed information on the diets and habitats of extinct species. Here, we present pollen assemblages from coprolites of the extinct heavy-footed moa (Pachyornis elephantopus) and coastal moa (Euryapteryx curtus) from the Central Otago region of the South Island, New Zealand. The data complement previous macrofossil (seed and leaf) analyses of the same specimens, and reinforce the interpretation that both species had generalist feeding ecologies. The pollen results reveal a broader selection of plant taxa consumed by both bird species than macrofossils alone, which has helped to discriminate between the predominantly grazing habit of the heavy-footed moa and the browsing habit of the coastal moa.
... A pollen record for the last 2000 years was obtained from sediments during recent investigations in Earnscleugh Cave (Clark et al. 1996). Between about 2000 and 1500 years ago pollen of shrubs and podocarp trees dominated the record. ...
... If sample sizes were to be doubled then more stability in apparent diversity would be present. This same trend is shown by comparing the number of species obtained by Clark et al. (1996) for Earnscleugh Cave, with that for the total available sample from the site. I conclude that, if sample sizes have an MNI less than about 75, considerable caution is required when making inferences about faunal composition. ...
... Important exceptions are Earnscleugh Cave, the Cromwell Gorge sites of Firewood Creek and Station Deposit, and some of the Chatto Creek sites. The Earnscleugh Cave deposits have provided most of the small bird bones, and are of Late Holocene age (Clark et al. 1996). Both Cromwell sites were also of Late Holocene age (Ritchie 1982). ...
Article
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The Quaternary terrestrial faunas, primarily birds, of three inland districts in Otago, South Island, New Zealand are described. The three areas (North Otago, Central Otago and near Wanaka) differ in their present topography and climate, and their palaeofaunas are also different: that of North Otago is considerably more diverse than either of the others. The differences are related to habitat diversity and climate. In Otago, 62 native species of birds, plus greater and lesser short‐tailed bats Mystacina spp., tuatara Sphenodon, Duvaucel's gecko Hoplodactylus duvaucelii, common gecko H. maculatus, and indeterminate skinks Oligosoma spp, are recorded from fossil deposits. Most deposits are of Holocene age. Swamp‐miring, predation by laughing owls and falcons, and pitfall processes were responsible for accumulating the fossils. The holotype of Ocydromus insignis Forbes is identified, and the species synonymised with Gallirallus australis Sparrman.
... However, Black found nothing unusual about the sediment (Hutton & Coughtrey 1875b). Earnscleugh Cave was rediscovered in 1993, and excavations the following year uncovered two moa feathers (Clark et al. 1996). Clark et al. described the cave more thoroughly , though Worthy (1998a) re-interpreted 'Alexandra Caves' A pelvis and sternum (OM AV7481, AV7482) of E. crassus, with tissue remnants still adhering to them, have also been discovered from 'Alexandra Caves'. ...
... Instead of preservation due to a regionally dry climate, the Mount Owen leg was desiccated by a constant breeze caused by drafting between two cave entrances (Worthy 1989). It is likely this process may also have contributed to the preservation of soft tissues in Earnscleugh Cave, which also has multiple entrances creating a chimney effect that dried the cave (Clark et al. 1996; Worthy 1998a). ...
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We provide the first complete review of soft tissue remains from New Zealand birds that became extinct prior to European settlement (c. AD 1800). These rare specimens allow insights into the anatomy and appearance of the birds that are not attainable from bones. Our review includes previously unpublished records of ‘lost’ specimens, and descriptions of recently discovered specimens such as the first evidence of soft tissues from the South Island goose (Cnemiornis calcitrans). Overall, the soft tissue remains are dominated by moa (with specimens from each of the six genera), but also include specimens from Finsch’s duck (Chenonetta finschi) and the New Zealand owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae). All desiccated soft tissue specimens that have radiocarbon or stratigraphic dates are late Holocene in age, and most have been found in the semi-arid region of Central Otago.
... Subfossil remains also show that Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvaucelii)-or a species very similar to it-was previously widespread on the South Island, including in Otago, but it is now locally extinct (Worthy 1998;Worthy & Holdaway 1994, 1996a. The kawekaweau (Hoplodactylus delcourti) was included in the Otago fauna on the basis of two subfossil bones ( Bauer & Russell 1988), a suggestion accepted by some ( Clark et al. 1996) but considered equivocal by others ( Worthy 1997Worthy , 1998). ...
... The past distribution of a taxon is only given when it is known to differ from the present. Subfossil deposits in OC contain the remains of both skinks and geckos, most of which are not clearly identifiable to species (Ritchie 1982;Clark et al. 1996;Worthy 1998). Some of these bones will undoubtedly be from taxa extant in the region but others clearly are not-for example, bones attributable to Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvaucelii) are widespread in Otago, as elsewhere in the North Island and South Island (Worthy 1987b;Worthy & Holdaway 1994, 1996a), yet the species has not reliably been reported from the mainland in historic times. ...
... The climate of the inter-montane basins tends towards semi-continental characteristics relative to the general maritime climate of most of New Zealand. The probable climate and vegetation of the New Zealand high country since the last glaciation have been described by McGlone & Basher (1995), Clark et al. (1996), McGlone et al. (1997), and McGlone & Moar (1998. ...
... The effect of the increased summer droughts with the development of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation pattern was the opening up of celery pine low forest, allowing the ingress of shorttussock grassland. This was recorded for the Idaburn valley, Central Otago, at 7000 yr B.P. (Clark et al. 1996), and the mid-rainfall Duncan Stream (40 km SW of the trial) in the Mackenzie Basin at 5500-4000 yr B.P. (McGlone & Moar 1998). Between 4000 and 1200 yr B.P., tall tussock {Chionochloa spp.) and Spaniard (Aciphylla spp.) appeared and increased to dominate at the Duncan Stream site. ...
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Two adjacent studies of sheep‐grazed mixed‐species pasture, on a Pukaki/Tekapo high country soil, have been on‐going since 1982. One compared 30 combinations of 5 increasing growth regimes (0–500 kg ha‐1 yr‐1 superphosphate +irrigation) × 3 stocking rates × 2 stocking methods; the other compared 27 combinations of P and S fertiliser (0–100 kg ha‐1 yr‐1). Summer shoot concentrations of P, S, N, and other macro‐ and micro‐nutrients in Lupinus polyphyllus, Trifolium ambiguum, T. hybridum, T. repens, T. pratense, Hieracium pilosella, Festuca rubra, and Dactylis glomerata are reported for the PxS study. Dactylis glomerata was notable for its large change in shoot P and S concentration with changes in P and S soil levels, whereas Lupinus polyphyllus and Festuca rubra showed low variation in S shoot concentration, and Hieracium pilosella low variation in shoot P concentration, under varying fertilisers rates and combinations. Species tended to have their highest shoot S concentration where they made their major contribution in mixed swards. Herbage Se, I, and Na levels were low to deficient for sheep nutrition.
... A late Holocene (post 2176 ± 76 14C BP: 1933-2330 calibrated BP) pollen record from Earnscleugh Cave near Alexandra (Clark et al. 1996) has perhaps the closest match to Gilbraltar Rock, as it has the same dominants (Muehlenbeckia, Coprosma, Myrsine, presence of Sophora and Plagianthus) and low levels (1-5%) of grass. However, the Earnscleugh Cave record differs markedly from Gibraltar Rock in the amount of conifer pollen, with Prumnopitys taxifolia and Phyllocladus making up to 25% of the pollen sum, and the abundance of charcoal. ...
... New Zealand has a globally low incidence of lightning strikes, and Central Otago sits at the centre of a region with few strikes even by New Zealand standards (Etherington & Perry 2017). The charcoal record from other Otago sites indicates that local fires did not affect the vegetation until after 9000 cal BP (Clark et al. 1996;McGlone & Moar 1998;McGlone & Wilmshurst 1999) and it is possible that the prevailing stable climate regime of the early Holocene resulted in even less lightning than in the later Holocene. ...
Article
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Central Otago is one of the driest parts of New Zealand, and much of the natural vegetation of the region was lost to fires following human settlement in the 13th Century AD. Plant macrofossil and pollen records have provided detailed insights into the vegetation communities that existed in Central Otago’s lowlands at the time of human settlement, but relatively little is known about the regional vegetation patterns prior to ~3000 years ago. Here, we present analyses of pollen and plant macrofossil assemblages from a buried cave deposit in the Cromwell Gorge which dates to the early Holocene (~11 700–8300 years ago), a time when the climate was significantly warmer than during the late Holocene. The results show that at this time the local vegetation community consisted of low open scrubland or woodland, very similar to that found there during the late Holocene. Rare tall forest tree pollen was probably derived from distant sources in Southland or coastal Otago, where forest was spreading at this time. The absence of evidence for tree species that were regionally dominant during the late Holocene (Phyllocladus alpinus, Kunzea serotina and Podocarpus hallii), and the abundance of low-growing shrubs, indicates that during the early Holocene the interior valleys of Central Otago may have experienced a climate substantially drier than present.
... Most of the region is so highly modified that it probably cannot be restored to a state approximating the pre-human condition by any change in management. Recent evidence (Clark et al., 1996) suggests that the pre-human vegetation included podocarp forest patches, and was generally more woody than the frost-and fire-maintained shrubland-grassland mosaic previously envisaged (e.g. McGlone, 1989). ...
Article
Changes in the vegetation of Flat Top Hill, a highly modified conservation area in semi-arid Central Otago, New Zealand, are described four years after the cessation of sheep and rabbit grazing. Unusually moist weather conditions coincide with the four-year period of change in response to the cessation of grazing. Between 1993 and 1997, the average richness and diversity (H') of species increased, and the average proportion of native species decreased significantly. The vegetation was significantly richer in exotic annual and perennial grass species, exotic perennial forbs, exotic woody species and native tussock grasses in 1997 than in 1993. Eight response guilds of species are identified. Most "remnant" native shrubs and forbs were stable, in that they remained restricted to local refugia and showed little change in local frequency. However, taller native grass species increased, some locally, and others over wide environmental ranges. Rare native annual forbs and several native perennial species from "induced" xeric communities decreased, and this may be a consequence of competition from exotic perennial grasses in the absence of grazing. The invasive exotic herb Sedum acre decreased in abundance between 1993 and 1997, but several other prominent exotic species increased substantially in range and local frequency over a wide range of sites. Exotic woody species, and dense, sward-forming grasses are identified as potential threats to native vegetation recovery.
... Individuals of the two species could only share identical haplotypes (in the absence of hybridization) if these species formed very recently indeed. Sigaus childi could have evolved during the Holocene while isolated from other grasshopper populations by elevation of the alpine zone and expansion of woodland in neighboring low altitude areas (McGlone et al., 1995(McGlone et al., , 2003Clark et al., 1996). ...
Article
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DNA barcoding has been touted as a program that will efficiently and relatively cheaply inform on biological diversity; yet many exemplars purporting to demonstrate the efficacy of the method have been undertaken by its principal proponents. Critics of DNA barcoding identify insufficient within-taxon sampling coupled with the knowledge that levels of haplotypic paraphyly are rather high as key reasons to be sceptical of the value of an exclusively DNA-based taxonomic. Here I applied a DNA barcoding approach using mtDNA sequences from the cytochrome oxidase I gene to examine diversity in a group of endemic New Zealand grasshoppers belonging to the genus Sigaus. The mtDNA data revealed high genetic distances among individuals of a single morpho-species, but this diversity was geographically partitioned. Phylogenetic analysis supported at least four haplogroups within one species (Sigaus australis) but paraphyly of this species with respect to several others. In some instances two morphologically and ecologically distinct species shared identical mtDNA haplotypes. The mismatch of genealogy and taxonomy revealed in the Sigaus australis complex indicates that, if used in isolation, DNA barcoding data can be highly misleading about biodiversity. Furthermore, failure to take into account evidence from natural history and morphology when utilizing DNA barcoding will tend to conceal the underlying evolutionary processes associated with speciation.© The Willi Hennig Society 2007.
... At several well-studied inland sites, New Zealand ravens are absent from the avifaunal record, e.g. Earnscleugh Cave, Central Otago (Clark et al. 1996), and the Waitomo karst (Worthy & Holdaway 1993: 228). This distributional pattern has led to the suggestion that the raven was a 'coastal scavenger' (Atkinson & Millener 1991: 170). ...
Article
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Measurements of Holocene raven bones from New Zealand show that birds from the Chatham Islands were significantly larger, on average, than those from the South Island, which were in turn significantly larger than North Island birds. Size variation on the North and South Islands appears to have been clinal in accordance with Bergmann's Rule. Three taxa are recognised: the Chatham Islands raven Corvus moriorum Forbes, 1892, the North Island raven C. antipodum antipodum (Forbes, 1893) and the South Island raven C. a. pycrafti n. subsp. A lectotype is designated for C. moriorum and a neotype for C. antipodum. New Zealand ravens were the largest crows in the Australasian region, and the Chatham Islands raven was probably the world's fourth‐ or fifth‐largest passerine. Nothing in the shape or relative size of New Zealand raven bones suggests adaptation for anything other than the generalised crow niche, except that the tarsometatarsus is relatively long, perhaps as an adaptation to increased walking or running on the ground. New Zealand ravens were strong fliers with no reduction in flying ability compared to weak‐flying New Zealand birds such as Callaeas. New Zealand ravens had a more ossified palate than C. brachyrhychos and C. corax of the Northern Hemisphere, while C. coronoides of south‐east Australia seems to be intermediate in this regard. C. coronoides is the most probable closest relative of New Zealand ravens, and the latter probably developed from an invasion of New Zealand by C. coronoides or crows ancestral to it.
... For the majority of birds, their ability to fly means that their bodies are small and their bones are hollow; this makes them fragile and less likely to be preserved in the fossil record compared with other animals or flightless birds [66]. In addition, volant species are underrepresented in typical pit-fall deposits because they can fly out [67,68]. As such, most aDNA studies are conducted on large or flightless birds (or both). ...
Article
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Ancient DNA (aDNA) has the ability to inform the evolutionary history of both extant and extinct taxa; however, the use of aDNA in the study of avian evolution is lacking in comparison to other vertebrates, despite birds being one of the most species-rich vertebrate classes. Here, we review the field of “avian ancient DNA” by summarising the past three decades of literature on this topic. Most studies over this time have used avian aDNA to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and clarify taxonomy based on the sequencing of a few mitochondrial loci, but recent studies are moving toward using a comparative genomics approach to address developmental and functional questions. Applying aDNA analysis with more practical outcomes in mind (such as managing conservation) is another increasingly popular trend among studies that utilise avian aDNA, but the majority of these have yet to influence management policy. We find that while there have been advances in extracting aDNA from a variety of avian substrates including eggshell, feathers, and coprolites, there is a bias in the temporal focus; the majority of the ca. 150 studies reviewed here obtained aDNA from late Holocene (100–1000 yBP) material, with few studies investigating Pleistocene-aged material. In addition, we identify and discuss several other issues within the field that require future attention. With more than one quarter of Holocene bird extinctions occurring in the last several hundred years, it is more important than ever to understand the mechanisms driving the evolution and extinction of bird species through the use of aDNA.
... Recent sub-fossil remains (i.e. <20 000 years old) have been found in sites at Waitomo, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa in the North Island, and North-west Nelson, Westland, Canterbury and Central Otago in the South Island ( Daniel 1990a;Worthy & Holdaway 1994a;Clark et al. 1996;). No specimens have been collected from New Zealand's three main islands since European arrival, c. 200 years ago. ...
... The inferred demographic history of northern heavy-footed moa from the southeast South Island (Fig. 5b) correlates with the widespread persistence of postglacial shrubland-grasslands in the area until c. 7 14 C ka BP (c. 7.8 cal ka BP), followed by their succession to a podocarp-southern beech-shrubland-grassland mosaic (McGlone et al., 1995;Clark et al., 1996). ...
... Worthy, 1997;Worthy & Zhao, 2006), pitfalls in caves and loess swallowholes (e.g. Fraser, 1873;Archey, 1941;Clark et al., 1996;Worthy & Holdaway, 1994;Worthy, 1998a), coastal sand dunes (e.g. Worthy, 1998b;Worthy, 1998c) and mirings (e.g. ...
Article
Localised deposits of Late Pleistocene and Holocene bird bones occur in wetlands throughout New Zealand. These are characterised by dense accumulations of mostly disarticulated bones, with assemblages dominated by large, flightless bird taxa; in particular the extinct ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes). A wide range of deposition mechanisms were historically proposed for these sites, including large floods and stampedes during wildfires. We outline a simple method for analysing the orientation and spatial distribution of bones within these deposits using GIS software, and apply this method to the interpretation of three such deposits from South Island, New Zealand. The results are consistent with non-catastrophic, periodic miring of individual moa. Long bones within these sites were preferentially orientated and subhorizontally inclined, indicating post-deposition disarticulation and movement of the bones within the sediment by sediment liquefaction and raking from the legs of mired birds, with a possible influence from water flow. Small, light skeletal elements were significantly under represented in the deposits. This may be due to post-mortem scavenging or weathering of vertebra and crania, 'pumping' to the surface of light, buoyant elements during liquefaction events, or crushing of these elements by subsequently mired birds.
... In some instances, it is likely that relict low-altitude populations survived climate and vegetation shifts, finding suitable habitat in braided riverbeds and the semiarid environments of Central Otago and central Canterbury. Following the LGM, these semiarid environments apparently did support some woodland (Clark et al. 1996;McGlone et al. 1995)-perhaps as much as 80% (Walker et al. 2004)-but it is unlikely that continuous dense forest developed. ...
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Pest management is expensive and there is often uncertainty about the benefits for the resources being protected. There can also be unintended consequences for other parts of the ecosystem, especially in complex food webs. In making decisions managers generally have to rely on qualitative information collected in a piecemeal fashion. A method to assist decision making is a qualitative modelling approach using fuzzy cognitive maps, a directed graphical model related to neural networks that can take account of interactions between pests and conservation assets in complex food webs. Using all available information on relationships between native and exotic resources and consumers, we generated hypotheses about potential consequences of single-species and multi-species pest control on the long-term equilibrium abundances of other biotic components of an ecosystem. We applied the model to a dryland ecosystem in New Zealand because we had good information on its trophic structure, but the information on the strength of species interactions was imprecise. Our model suggested that pest control is unlikely to significantly boost native invertebrates and lizards in this ecosystem, suggesting that other forms of management may be required for these groups. Most of the pest control regimes tested resulted in greater abundances of at least one other pest species, which could potentially lead to other management problems. Some of the predictions were unexpected, such as more birds resulting from possum and mouse control. We also modelled the effects of an increase in invasive rabbits, which led to unexpected declines of stoats, weasels, mice and possums. These unexpected outcomes resulted from complex indirect pathways in the food web. Fuzzy cognitive maps allow rapid construction of prototype models of complex food webs using a wide range of data and expert opinion. Their utility lies in providing direction for future monitoring efforts and generating hypotheses that can be tested with field experiments.
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Our evaluation of pre-settlement Holocene (10 000–1000 BP) fire, using radiocarbon-dated charcoals and pollen and charcoal spectra in pollen diagrams, concludes that fires were infrequent and patchy in the eastern South Island of New Zealand. Charcoal radiocarbon dates point to three broad phases of fire frequency: infrequent patchy fires from 10 000 to 2600 BP; a slightly increased frequency between 2600 and 1000 BP; and an unprecedented increase of fires after 1000 BP, which peaked between 800 and 500 BP. We suggest that natural fire was driven more by vegetation flammability (with ignitibility and combustibility components) than climate within this rain-shadow region, that plant chemistry principally determined fire frequency, and that topography determined the extent of fire. The review suggests that there were rare spatial and temporal instances of a feedback relationship between fire and early-successional grasses in eastern South Island. This occurred only within narrow-range, cool environments, whose equilibrium communities were of flammable, phenolic-rich woody species and grasses, and was predominantly in the late pre-settlement period. Elsewhere, grasses and herbs were understorey components to otherwise low-flammability, hardwood forest and scrub.
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The discovery in New Zealand of Late Holocene deposits of coprolites from extinct avian megaherbivores has provided a unique opportunity to gain a detailed insight into the ecology of these birds across ecologically diverse habitats. Macrofossil analysis of 116 coprolites of the giant ratite moa (Aves, Dinornithiformes) reveals a diverse diet of herbs and low shrubs in both semi-arid and high rainfall ecological zones, overturning previous models of moa as dominantly browsers of trees and shrubs. Ancient DNA analysis identified coprolites from four moa species (South Island giant moa, Dinornis robustus; upland moa, Megalapteryx didinus; heavy-footed moa, Pachyornis elephantopus and stout-legged moa, Euryapteryx gravis), revealing a larger dietary variation between habitat types than between species. The new data confirm that moa fed on a variety of endemic plant taxa with unusual growth forms previously suggested to have co-evolved with moa. Lastly, the feeding ecologies of moa are shown to be widely different to introduced mammalian herbivores.
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Predictions from three conceptual models of the dynamics of semi-arid vegetation (Clementsian succession, alternative stable states and annuation/pulse phenomena) are used to review the available evidence on changes in the vegetation of semi-arid lowland Central Otago, New Zealand. Evidence is presented from Central Otago that corresponds with Clementsian succession and with annuation/pulse phenomena, although there is so far no formal evidence of alternative stable states. A declining-productivity model, which combines aspects of the other models, is also shown to fit the process of vegetation change in Central Otago. Present data on vegetation dynamics in Central Otago are insufficient for the employment of management frameworks such as degradation gradient assessment and the state-and-transition model.
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From 1827 to 1831 the German historian Leopold von Ranke travelled through Germany, Austria, and Italy, hunting for documents and archives. During this journey Ranke developed a new model for historical research that transformed the archive into the most important site for the production of historical knowledge. Within the archive, Ranke claimed, the trained historian could forget his personal predispositions and political loyalties, and write objective history. This essay critically examines Ranke's model for historical research through a study of the obstacles, frustrations, and joys that he encountered on his journey. It shows how Ranke's archival experiences inspired him to re-evaluate his own identity as a historian and as a human being, and investigates some of the affiliations between his model for historical research and the political realities of Prince Metternich's European order. Finally, the essay compares Ranke's historical discipline to other nineteenth-century disciplines, such as anthropology and archaeology.
Article
The potential woody vegetation of Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand, immediately prior to human settlement, is described using complementary lines of evidence. Generalised additive models based on a database of present species locations and environmental surfaces are used to predict the potential distribution of woody species in relation to the environment across a study area of 15 500 km. Twelve biogeographic zones are classified on the basis of the predicted distributions of the 15 most common potential canopy tree species. The likely structure and composition of each zone is assessed using (1) model‐predicted occurrences of more common canopy, subcanopy, and shade‐intolerant species, and present‐day locations of rarer woody species, (2) compiled information from the subfossil wood, charcoal, and pollen records, and (3) the presence of plant species and life forms in zones of environmental stress. We conclude that water deficit and winter temperature minima are not sufficiently severe to have excluded tall woody vegetation from the intermontane basin and valley floors of Central Otago, and that low forest and shrublands would have dominated here prior to human settle‐ment. At low elevations, grassland was probably confined to floodplains and local areas of shallow or permanently moist soils, while saline soils supported distinctive herbaceous communities. Tall conifer‐hardwood and Nothofagus forests are predicted to have once covered the montane and subalpine range slopes. Analysis of environmental tolerances suggests that shrublands may also have dominated above the regional treeline (770–1380 m a.s.l. in Central Otago) although tall tussocks probably increased in dominance towards the range summits. We discuss the strengths and limitations of the different approaches to vegetation reconstruction. Remaining uncertainties may be resolved with a combination of palaeoecological and physiological research and the application of spatial process modelling. Implications of the work for conservation management are discussed.
Article
We examine the proposition that disturbance, in the ecological sense, is necessary for persistence and recovery of rare-plant habitats in open vegetation of dry eastern New Zealand, these 'drylands' being the Level IV land environments (LENZ) east of the main axial ranges with average Penman annual water deficits of ≥ 270 mm. Local flooding and sedimentation and rare lightning-strike fire dominated the pre-settlement disturbance regime of what was a comparatively stable dry environment. Modelled vegetation reconstructions and the subfossil and pollen records depict vegetation prior to human settlement as tiered shrubland and low forest with stress- or browse-tolerant grass and herb understoreys. Grasslands per se were quite restricted below the treeline, with little evidence for seral vegetation promoting increased fire frequency over that of background levels. We suggest that herbivory and trampling by large herbivorous birds (eastern guild of moa) fostered habitats and regeneration conditions for much of the rich eastern flora of understorey grasses and forbs. In particular, the birds' feeding action and ground scarification may have promoted both clonal perpetuation and seed regeneration opportunities, strategies predominant among the 235 dryland rare species. These rare plants today inhabit a fundamentally different biome to that of pre-settlement times (no woody overstorey or matrix), competing with a guild of sward-forming grasses. The predominant pre-settlement regime of disturbance by large browsing birds, and seed dispersal and pollination by birds, bats, geckos and skinks, has been replaced by one dominated by humans and their activities, plus a mostly mammalian fauna with novel modes of herbivory and different consequences for ecosystem function. We suggest that sustained recovery of the suite of threatened dryland plants will depend upon the restoration of their habitats, as illustrated by a case study of the threatened shrub Mueblenbeckia astonii. A strategic review is needed to identify management actions that will facilitate the restoration of structurally complex, indigenous-dominated woody communities supporting secure populations of threatened dryland biota, including threatened fauna.
Article
A spatial database of extant woody plant species and environmental information is used to describe the present and past woody vegetation of Central Otago, inland eastern South Island, and its relationship to environmental and historical factors. Fourteen present-day associations of woody plants are described that are principally related to elevation and disturbance by historical fires and grazing. Generalised additive models of the present-day distributions of woody species are used to predict the potential distributions of native woody species on a 1-km2 grid across the study area. Twelve biogeographic zones of pre-settlement woody vegetation are identified by a classification of the predicted distributions of 15 potential former canopy dominant species that are still most common in Central Otago. The likely woody species composition of each zone immediately prior to human settlement is described on the basis of the predictions of the models and the fossil record. Potential future distributions of woody weeds in each zone are also predicted. We propose the twelve pre-settlement woody vegetation zones as a framework to guide the placement and design of a representative network of public conservation areas for the restoration of woody vegetation in Central Otago. We determine the present area of public conservation land within each zone. Up to 20% of high-elevation pre-settlement woody vegetation zones in Central Otago are currently within public conservation lands, whereas < 2% of mid- and low-elevation zones are represented. To better represent the range of natural habitats, ecosystems and indigenous species in Central Otago, more land at low elevations should be reserved for long-term succession to native woody vegetation and recovery of associated fauna. Pre-settlement vegetation patterns should be used to inform the broad goals for these conservation areas; native woody vegetation restoration efforts should be accompanied by research; and partnerships with local authorities, conservation organisations and the public should be sought.
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The relationships, adaptations, and habits of the extinct, endemic Finsch's duck (Anas finschi Van Beneden, 1875) from New Zealand were determined from skeletal comparisons. Finsch's duck, usually placed in the monotypic genus Euryanas Oliver (1930), was found to be most similar to the Australian wood duck (Chenonetta jubata). Because the differences are mainly those associated with loss of flight, Euryanas is synonymised with Chenonetta, and the species should now be known as Chenonetta finschi.
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Summary: The takahe (Notornis mantelli), an endangered rail once widely distributed through New Zealand, had become restricted to Fiordland, and possibly Nelson and the Ruahine Ranges, by European times. Two contentious viewpoints have been advanced to explain the decline: climate and vegetational changes in the late Pleistocene and Holocene; and ecological changes induced by early Polynesians. These theories are examined in relation to the habitat requirements of takahe in its present restricted range, the historical and sub-fossil record, and the possible age of the sub-fossils. We conclude that the takahe is a specialised tussock grassland feeder adapted to the alpine region and that it is unlikely to have changed these feeding adaptations since the last glacial period of the Pleistocene; that the widespread sub-fossil distribution occurred in the glacial periods of the Pleistocene when alpine and sub-alpine grassland covered most of New Zealand; and that replacement of grassland and scrubland by forest when the climate ameliorated in the late Pleistocene-Holocene would have reduced takahe habitat restricting the bird to certain localities where it was vulnerable to hunting by Polynesians when they colonised New Zealand.
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Hoplodactylus delcourti n. sp., is described from a partial specimen of unknown locality. It is distinguished by its huge size (370 mm snout-vent length), large median patch of preanal pores, and dorsal pattern of longitudinal stripes. It is the largest known species of gecko and represents a 54% increase in the maximum recorded snout-vent length for the family. A New Zealand origin for the specimen is supported both by features of its morphology and by congruence with some early reports of a giant lizard of Maori legend. It is not known if the species is extant.
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The pattern of activity of Emus Dromaius novaehollandae in western New South Wales has been examined and contrasted with that of the other large native animals in the area, Red Kangaroos Megaleia rufa and Euros Macropus robustus. A detailed behavioural analysis indicated that Emus were diurnal and speni a large part of theaay feeding in both summer and winter. During hot days in summer they occasionally sheltered among trees from the radiation heat load. The water requirements of adult Emus measured by tritiated water turnover do not appear high but intake may be limited by the size of the simple gut, resulting in a relatively high frequency of drinking, once per day and occasionally twice per day during hot summer conditions. The water use of chicks, especially young chicks, was much greater than that of the adults. Water losses from an incubating bird, however, were one fifth of those of adult birds in similar conditions. The Emus were omnivorous, relying on insects, seed heads, berries and succulent vegetation. The Emus successfully make their living in the arid zone very differently from the marsupials and the basis of this is discussed in relation to recent findings about their physiological adaptations.
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An assemblage of subfossil avian remains deposited over a period of 7 ,000 years at Poukawa, Hawkes Bay, is examined. The abundance of many of the larger bird taxa (Apteryx, Cygnus, Notomis, Circus, Strigops) appears to have declined over the whole period, and they were all rare by 1,000 years ago. The considerable changes in bird community composition at Poukawa during the last 1,000 years, including the extinction of many species, probably resulted from forest modification caused by fires lit by Polynesian man. Differences in the occurrence of various skeletal elements of the birds are apparent, and possible reasons for this are discussed. The first New Zealand record of Oxyura australis Gould, 1836 (Bluebilled Duck) is reported.
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Pollen diagrams from upland blanket bogs and mire‐pool complexes on the southern Garvie Mountains and the Old Man Range, and from a sag pond mire on the slopes of the Kawarau Gorge, record the vegetation history of the last 12 000 years in Central Otago, the driest region of New Zealand. During the late‐glacial/early Holocene these subalpine sites supported grassland/shrubland vegetation. Trees or tall scrub were absent. Tree ferns became increasingly common in the early Holocene, most likely as small stands in damp, sheltered locations. At 7500 yr B.P. a coniferous forest of Prumnopitys taxifolia, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides and Podocarpus abruptly replaced the previous grassland communities at lower altitudes, while a coniferous scrub of Phyllocladus alpinus and Halocarpus bidwillii formed the upper treeline. The reafforestation of Central Otago and adjacent regions was completed 2000 years after podocarp‐dominant forest began to occupy coastal regions. The delay is attributed to drier climates in the interior of the southern South Island during the early Holocene. From 6000 yr B.P. Nothofagus menziesii began to spread through the higher altitude forest, and shortly after 3000 yr B.P. N. fusca type forest began to replace the previous treeline dominants, Phyllocladus and Halocarpus. Treeline may have risen slightly in the mid to late Holocene. From 600 yr B.P., repeated fires destroyed both lowland and upland forest and tall scrub communities. First bracken, and then grassland, replaced the burnt forest. These fires were a consequence of Maori exploitation of the Otago hinterlands.
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The late Quaternary fossil vertebrate faunas from caves and cliff sites in the limestone of Mt Cookson, near Waiau in North Canterbury, are described. These faunas allow documentation of faunal changes in the area, over the last 40,000 years, and reveal differences from other previously studied areas that are related to climate. Pitfall faunas from the numerous potholes dominate the deposits, but three predator‐accumulated deposits, attributed to the New Zealand falcon Falco novaeseelandiae, were found. The deposits in Merino Cave and Holocene Hole were studied in detail.Merino Cave had two distinct fossil faunas, from which six radiocarbon dates were obtained, showing that deposition spanned the Otiran Glacial period, between 38,000 yrs BP and 14,000 yrs BP. The older of the two Merino Cave faunas, dated at about 38,000 yrs BP, is the first extensive assemblage for the mid‐Otiran period from New Zealand. The moa fauna was dominated by the heavy‐footed moa Pachyornis elephantopus, but the stout‐legged moa Euryapteryx geranoides, upland moa Megalapteryx didinus, large bush moa Dinornis novaezealandiae, and slender moa D. struthoides were present. Carinates included the following: Eyles's harrier Circus eylesi, adzebill Aptornis defossor, large kiwis Apteryx australis or A. haastii, weka Gallirallus australis, New Zealand quail Coturnix novaezelandiae, Finsch's duck Euryanas finschi, kea Nestor notabilis, laughing owl Sceloglaux albifacies, and owlet‐nightjar Aegotheles novaezealandiae. This assemblage indicates an open shrubland ‐grassland environment. The younger Merino Cave fauna was deposited between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago, during the last major glacial advance at the coldest time of the Otira Glaciation. Only moa bones were present, and P. elephantopus again dominated the fauna. This late Otiran population comprised larger individuals than did the mid‐Otiran population, indicating mean size of individuals got bigger as the climate cooled.Holocene Hole had a rich deposit of small birds dating from the late Holocene, between 3,000 and 2,400 yrs BP. This fauna was deposited when continuous beech forest clothed the landscape. By then the large emeids P. elephantopus, E. geranoides, and M. didinus had been replaced in the fauna by the little bush moa Anomalopteryx didiformis in association with the large bush moa D. novaezealandiae. New Zealand quail and pipits Anthus novaeseelandiae were absent from the local fauna which was dominated by a range of forest species. However, the presence ofadzebills and Finsch's ducks, both absent in Holocene forests farther west, reflects the low rainfall and seasonal dryness of the area. Several species of petrels were present on Mt Cookson: Mottled petrels Pterodroma inexpectata. Cook's petrel Pterodroma cookii, shearwaters Puffinus sp., and diving petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix.The falcon deposits were dominated by bones of kiore Rattus exulans, and included a few bones of species introduced to New Zealand by Europeans, indicating that most of the remains were deposited in the last 800 years, or during the post‐human contact period. However, bones of a wide range of bird species, numerically dominated by parakeets Cyanoramphus sp., were also present. Quail and pipit were common, and ternbirds Bowdhria punctala were present, indicating the re‐establishment of shrublands or grasslands in the area during the post-human period. A small amount of material was older, as indicated by preservation characteristics and a single date of about 2,000 yrs BP. This older material contained the following species not present in material of postrat age: wrens Xenicus sp., snipe Coenocorypha cf. aucklandica, short-tailed bats Mystacina sp., Duvaucel's gecko Hoplodactylus duvaucelii, and tuatara Sphenodon sp. These taxa are now extinct or confined to rat-free islands, so these fossil records support the contention that kiore were responsible for the reduction in their mainland ranges.
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The late Quaternary fossil vertebrate faunas from 43 caves in Oligocene limestones and Ordovician marbles in the Takaka Valley and on Takaka Hill, northwest Nelson, New Zealand, are described and discussed. Depositional environments are described and interpreted. Major sites, including Ngarua Cave, Hawkes Cave, Kairuru Cave, Hobsons Tomo, and Irvines Tomo are described in detail. Many sites on Takaka Hill have been damaged by casual collectors since their discovery around 1900. Most sites were pitfall traps, but some deposits had been redistributed by water. Two deposits were attributed to an accumulation of material from pellets ejected by laughing owls (Sceloglaux albifacies), and of these the spectacularly rich Predator Cave site provided a large sample of small vertebrates.The fossil faunas included 42 species of land snails, three species of leiopelmatid frog, a tuatara, three species of geckoes, one or more species of skink, at least 58 (including two introduced) species of bird, three species of bats, two rats and the house mouse. Eighteen radiocarbon dates show that the faunas of the Hill and the Valley sites were laid down during the past 30,000 years. The dates ranged from 400 ± 62 to 29,011 ± 312 yrs bp. The date of 29,011 ± 312 yrs bp, recorded from a specimen in Hawkes Cave, supplants the date of 25,070 yrs bp from Te Ana Titi as the oldest cave specimen known in New Zealand. The introduced birds plus one rat and the mouse were in laughing owl middens, indicating that deposition by this species continued into the late 1800s or early 1900s.Two distinct faunal assemblages were present in both areas. These demonstrate that there were regional extinctions due to climatic and associated environmental changes at the end of the Otira (last) Glaciation. In contrast to the continental regions, where humans were already present 10,000 years ago, and where the causes of post‐glacial megafaunal extinctions are subject to intense debate, no species became extinct in New Zealand until about 1000 years ago when humans arrived. The fauna from the last (Otira) Glaciation and Late Glacial periods (30,000 to 10,000 yrs bp), contained taxa typical of similar‐aged deposits at Oparara and farther south on the West Coast, and of Holocene deposits in the east and south of the South Island. The faunas in deposits of Holocene age (< 10,000 yrs bp) contained taxa typical of local forests at the time of European contact, plus extinct taxa. Some taxa were common to faunas of both ages. The Otiran and Late Glacial fauna were characterised by the moas Pachyornis elephantopus, P. australis, Euryapteryx geranoides and Megalapteryx didinus, but Anomalopteryx didiformis was present only in Holocene deposits. Dinornis struthoides and D. novaezealandiae were present in deposits of both ages. The duck Euryanas finschi, eagle Harpagornis moorei, and Aptornis and takahe Porphyrio mantelli were also found only in Otiran ‐ Late Glacial ‐ age deposits.Petrels were very rare in the Takaka area. Some samples of Anas chlorotis and Cyanoramphus spp. were large enough for statistical analysis, and the ranges in individual size, measured by lengths of various longbones, are presented and discussed for the fossil populations. Remains of some anatids, including Hymenolaimus, were common in Takaka Hill deposits at considerable distances from surface water, suggesting that these waterfowl were then more terrestrial than since mammalian predators arrived. Bones of three further individuals of Dendroscansor decurvirostris found in Hobsons Tomo constitute the third record for this taxon.The Hill and the Valley faunas are compared and discussed, and the regional fauna as a whole is compared with those from Oparara, the West Coast, Poukawa Swamp, Waitomo, and the Far North dunelands. The fossil faunas of Takaka Hill demonstrate that there has been no interchange of North and South Island terrestrial vertebrates over the last 30,000 years, and they therefore suggest that there was no Cook Strait land bridge at any time during the Otira Glaciation.
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The late Quaternary fossil vertebrate faunas from 42 caves in Oligocene limestones of the Barrytown Syncline, Westland, New Zealand, are described and discussed. The Hermit's Cave deposit is probably derived from pellets ejected by laughing owls Sceloglaux albifacies at one of their roost sites. Radiocarbon dating shows that the faunas were laid down at various times during the past 25 000yr. A date of 25 070yr is the oldest so far obtained from any cave fossil in New Zealand. The fossil fauna consisted of 50 species of bird, tree frogs, one skink, one gecko, one tuatara, and two or possibly three bats. A glacial fauna, dating from the last (Otira) Glaciation and Late Glacial period, between 10 000-25 000 radiocarbon years ago, contained taxa typical of Holocene deposits in the east and south of the South Island. A Holocene fauna, deposited during the past 10 000yr, contained taxa typical of the West Coast forests at the time of European contact, plus extinct taxa. -from Authors
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Contributions to the understanding of moa ecology are reviewed. The distribution and relative abundance of each moa species in natural and archaeological sites is examined in detail. Eleven moa species (three dinomithids and eight emeids) are recognised in this study. The three dinomithids each had a New Zealand wide distribution. Dinornis giganteus primarily had a lowland distribution that coincided with areas suggested to have been vegetated in open low forest or shrubland. It was rare in wet, dense tall forests where the medium sized D. novaezealandiae was the dominant dinornithid. D. struthoides, the smallest dinomithid, ranged from lowlands to subalpine areas and was most abundant in forested areas. Among the emeids Anomalopteryx didiformis and Euryapteryx geranoides had a New Zealand wide distribution, Euryapteryx curtus and Pachyornis mappini were North Island endemics, and Pachyornis australis, P. elephantopus, Emeus crassus, and Megalapteryx didinus South Island endemics. Anomalopteryx didiformis was primarily an inhabitant of wet lowland, tall podocarp-broadleaf forests. Both Euryapteryx species and Emeus crassus were lowland inhabitants of shrubland or open low forests, and thus predominated in drier regions. Euryapteryx curtus and Emeus crassus may have been ecological equivalents. In the South Island Euryapteryx geranoides seems to have preferred areas postulated to have been clothed in dry inland low forests generally over 200 m above sea level. Emeus seems to have had a predominantly coastal distribution. Megalapteryx didinus primarily inhabited upland areas of montane to subalpine habitats. Pachyornis mappini was a lowland species with an affinity for wetlands. It was rare in areas of continuous tall forest and most common where a shrubland-forest mosaic existed. P. elephantopus was the South Island equivalent of P. mappini but was absent from continuous areas of wet tall forests. P. australis replaced P. elephantopus in montane forests and subalpine areas, apparently preferring wetter colder areas. This analysis shows patterns of distribution that are correlated with differing vegetation types so allowing general habitat preferences to be determined. Each species clearly had a distinctive habitat preference that suggests that usually only three to four species coexisted in any one habitat, niche separation being effected by differing sizes and beak morphologies. It is no longer acceptable to refer to moa ecology without qualification by taxa concerned.
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Excavations of deposits ranging in age from 20 000 years ago, within the Otira glacial maximum, to the commencement of the Holocene 10 000 years ago, from Honeycomb Hill Cave in the Oparara valley, northwest Nelson, New Zealand, have revealed a large fossil avifauna. Faunal and floral analyses indicate that the cave, now in a lowland podocarp/beech forest, was in a subalpine shrub zone with nearby montane forest about 20 000 years ago. From this the existence of substantial forest remnants persisting throughout the Otiran Stage in this region is inferred. The upland moa Megalapteryx didinus (Owen) and crested moa Pachyornis australis Oliver are inferred to have been primarily mhabitants of montane forest and subalpine shrubland. By contrast, the little bush moa Anomalopteryx didiformis (Owen) lived primarily in lowland forests. Other extinct birds inferred to have preferred the open shrubland prevailing in the Oparara dunng the Otiran are Finsch's duck Euryanas finschi Van Beneden, Aptornis otidiformis (Owen), and Harpagornis moorei Haast. Kakapo Strigops habroptilus Gray are only present in younger deposits laid down when forest conditions prevailed, supporting the idea that these were primarily lowland birds.
Article
Presents evidence from extant ratites, that the moa may have had only a small standing crop 1000 BP, numbered in tens of thousands. The marginal shrubland they are believed to have browsed upon, and their probably small clutch size, does not suggest a numerous population. Climate and temperature fluctuations were not sufficient in the last 1 Ka to result in their extinction but the Maori probably introduced fowl pests, diseases, rats and predation which all introduced stresses to the moa population. The extinct species are envisaged as being in a precarious state vis a vis extinction before man arrived. Firing of shrub and forest which reduced their habitat, and effective fowl hunting techniques already in evidence in Maori culture, brought about extinction of the moa within 300 yr. -T.M.Kennard
Article
New Zealand was the last substantial landmass to be colonized by prehistoric people. Even within Oceania, where there are much smaller and more remote islands, such as Pitcairn and Easter Island, New Zealand stands out as the last-settled archipelago. Its prehistory promises, therefore, better archaeological evidence concerning prehistoric colonization of pristine land-masses than is the case anywhere else, as is apparent in the extinction of megafauna (Anderson 1989a). But much depends on the precise antiquity of human colonization and this, following a long period of consensus, is now a matter of sharp debate.
Chapter
New Zealand’s place in world climates is determined by its location and its geographical form. It is a long, narrow, mountainous land, the main islands extending about 1900 km from latitude 34°S to 48°S and mostly between 100 to 300 km wide from east to west. No place is more than 130 km from the sea, and the ocean extends at least 1600 km to the next large land mass.
Chapter
The soil pattern of New Zealand is a complex one. This is the result of a wide range of soil-forming factors acting on parent materials including many kinds of igneous rocks (from ultrabasic to acidic), metamorphic and sedimentary rocks (schists, gneisses, conglomerates, sandstones, mudstones and limestones), loess, and volcanic rocks (Fig. 1). Land forms are varied; about 50 percent of New Zealand is steep, 20 percent is hilly, and only 30 percent is rolling or flat. The climatic types under which the rocks weather vary generally from oceanic to subcontinental, and from cool temperate to subtropic, often with considerable local diversity, as shown for example in the contrast between the semi-arid basins of Central Otago and the adjacent superhumid mountains and lowlands of Westland. Soil formation occurred under a native vegetative cover ranging from lowland tussock grassland or shrubland in the drier areas to podocarp-dicotylous forest and beech forest in the more humid regions. In the warmer northern part of the North Island local areas of kauri forest occurred. Subalpine grasslands, herbfield, moorland and scrubland occurred at altitudes above 900 m. The normal course of pedogenesis has been interrupted in many localities by events such as the flooding of rivers over alluvial plains, the drifting of sand and dust, the fall of ash from erupting volcanoes and by continuing erosion, both normal and accelerated, of steep hillsides.
Article
The Cassowary Casuarius casuarius and its diet were studied in the Lacey's Creek- Clump Point area of northern Queensland. Birds are usually solitary and territorial, females apparently dominant over males. Males incubate and rear the chicks. Females may mate with more than one male during the year. Some agonistic and sexual displays are described. Development of chicks is briefly outlined. The birds take three years to develop full adult plumage. Cassowaries eat fruit of over sixty-seven species. The family Lauraceae is most important. The breeding season, June to October, corresponds wlth the time of maximum abundance of fruit in the forest.
Article
The distnbutiOn of subfossil forest remains collected in the eastern part of the South Island of New Zealand 15 outlined. Surface logs, buried wood and charcoals, wind–throw dimples and buried podsols provide convincing evillence of a former widespread forest cover over now–treeless tracts of the South Island. Most of the Wood and charcoals discovered have been identitied, and collecting sites plotted on a map. A broad distinction can be drawn between probable podocarp and beech forest areas.Radiocarbon dates for a number of wood and charcoal samples are presented and most of these point to forest destruction by fire since the advent of man In New Zealand within the last 1.000 years or so.Older dates presented obviously lie outside the period of human occupatIOn of New Zealand and the fires that produced these ancient charcoah are assumed to have originated from mltural causes. The pre~ent vegetallon on former forest sites and the distribution of forest remains in relation to existing forest are discussed, and some of the leading opinions as to the causes of forest destruction arc briefly reviewed
Article
Shannon diversity indices for several subfossil assemblages of New Zealand birds are compared with estimates for living communities today. As expected, bird species diversity was higher in the pre-human environment, but it was also greater than that predicted from studies of living communities. Previous estimates of the number of terrestrial bird species in the pre-human avifauna are too low, and many of these were incorrectly interpreted as being open-country species. The pre-human fauna was deficient in open-country birds. A prediction based on biogeographic (species-area) theory that this deficiency in open-country species was filled by half the species of moa (Dinornithiformes) is not supported by palaeoecological evidence. The major fall in bird species diversity in New Zealand is linked to the type of forest removed in Polynesian times, as well as the area.
Article
A fossil bone deposit from a cliff flanking the Tiropahi River, Westland, South Island, New Zealand, was dated at 17,340 ± 140 radiocarbon years BP. The taphonomy suggests that the deposit was accumulated by a predator. Site characteristics, prey size and bone damage patterns (greenstick fractures and evidence of digestion) suggest the predator was the extinct or near-extinct Laughing Owl Sceloglaux albifacies. The species assemblage represented by the fossils show that Sceloglaux was an opportunistic predator whose diet included birds, bats, frogs, skinks, geckos, and fish. The dominant prey were nocturnal ground-frequenting birds, particularly shearwaters and prions. The preferred habitats of the prey species and the deposit's age suggest that the river valley near the fossil site was forested, with areas of shrubland and grassland, during the coldest part of the Otiran Glaciation.
Article
Subfossil bones of the extinct New Zealand duck, Euryanas finschi (Van Beneden), from late Otiran glacial-early Holocene (20,000- 1 1,000 years BP) and late Holocene (2,000-1,000 years BP) deposits were compared. Ten percent reduction in wing bone lengths and reductions in other pectoral girdle elements suggest reduced flight ability and may be related to possible ecological changes such as relaxation of predation pressure and increase in stability of food supply. Comparisons of Euryanas with extant members of the Anus aucklandica (Gray) species complex indicate that in the late Holocene Euryanas had similar flight ability to A. aucklandica chlorotis Gray, 1845.
1894: Result of a further Exploration of the Bone-fissure at the Castle Rocks
  • A Hamilton
Hamilton, A. 1894: Result of a further Exploration of the Bone-fissure at the Castle Rocks, Southland. Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 26: 226-229.
The breeding ecology of moas
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Hamel, G. E. 1979: The breeding ecology of moas. In Anderson, A. J.; (Ed): Birds of a feather, pp.
1874: Notes respecting the moa cave at Earnscleugh, Otago. Transactions and proceedings of the
  • T H Cockburn-Hood
Cockburn-Hood, T. H. 1874: Notes respecting the moa cave at Earnscleugh, Otago. Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 6: 387-388.
Relationships between moas and plantsEd): Moas, mammals and climate in the ecological history of New Zealand
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Greenwood, R. M. 1989: Relationships between moas and plants. In Rudge, M. R.; (Ed): Moas, mammals and climate in the ecological history of New Zealand. New Zealand journal of ecology 12 (Supplement): 67-95.
1877: A new fossil bird, Anas finschi, from the Earnscleugh Caves
  • Van Beneden
Van Beneden, P. J. 1877: A new fossil bird, Anas finschi, from the Earnscleugh Caves, Otago, New Zealand. Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 9: 599-602.
1872: Notes on the Lizards of New Zealand, with Descriptions of Two New Species
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