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Assessment of seedling recruitment under manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) plantings at Shakespear and Wenderholm regional parks
Quadling, Diane Patricia
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Exclosure plots were monitored to investigate the impact of browsing on seedling recruitment by Trichosurus vulpecula, Oryctolagus cuniculus and Rattus rattus on seedlings under Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides plantings in two Auckland Regional Council Parks (ARC), Shakespear and Wenderholm. The number of woody seedlings that established over a 17-month period was recorded. Gaps within the same Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopy were created to investigate the influence of the canopy on seedling recruitment. Soil samples were taken to investigate the existing seed bank beneath the same Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopies.At Wenderholm, net change in seedling density differed among treatments (P=0.014). Seedling density increased within the plots that excluded Trichosurus vulpecula and Oryctolagus cuniculus and within plots that additionally excluded Rattus rattus, but declined in the control plots. In contrast at Shakespear, although seedling density increased more within both the exclosure plots than in the control plots, this result was not statistically significant (P=0.728). At Wenderholm, the average seedling height increased within both types of exclosure plots, but declined in the control plots. However, these differences among treatments were not statistically significant (P=0.204). At Shakespear, seedlings increased in height within the Trichosurus vulpecula, Oryctolagus cuniculus and Rattus rattus exclosures and declined marginally in the other two treatments. Again, differences in height change among treatments were not statistically significant (P=0.202).At both regional parks, the greatest cause of mortality within the exclosures excluding Trichosurus vulpecula and Oryctolagus cuniculus was desiccation. All of the mortalities within the Trichosurus vulpecula, Oryctolagus cuniculus and Rattus rattus exclosures was unidentifiable. However, within the control plots, at Wenderholm, the greatest identified cause of mortality was browsing and at Shakespear, the only cause of mortality within the control plots was browsing.Seedbanks at Wenderholm and Shakespear under the Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides plantings were dominated by forb species. A total of 1308 seedlings germinated from soil taken from Wenderholm, with exotic species making up 99.4% of germinations, with exotic species making up 97.9% of germinations. Similarly a total of 801 seedlings germinated from soil samples taken from Shakespear.At Wenderholm, the number of native seedling germinations within the gaps created in the Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopy, was more than twice the number that germinated under the closed canopy. However, this difference was marginally non-significant (P=0.065). At Shakespear, the number of native seedling germinations within gaps created in the Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopy was similar to the number that germinated under the closed canopy (P=0.2603).The results suggest that at Wenderholm, despite ongoing predator control, Trichosurus vulpecula and/or Oryctolagus cuniculus have had an adverse effect on the survival and growth of seedlings. The results also suggest that at Shakespear, Rattus rattus have had an adverse effect on the survival and growth of seedlings under the Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopy. The distance from mature forest may also have had an impact on the dispersal of native seeds within the Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides canopy. The implication of these results for the future management of restoration plantings in regional parks is discussed.