Forest ecosystem ecology

New Zealand’s native forest ecosystems make up about 30% of the country’s land area. These ecosystems, distributed across large tracts of the South Island and parts of the North Island, are unique to New Zealand and are therefore of high conservation value.

Introduced pest mammals and climate change related factors, including increasingly frequent droughts, are impacting on the condition and resilience of these forest ecosystems.

Our research team is using field data combined with remote sensing and GIS analysis and process based and statistical modelling to understand the dynamics of these forests across space and time.

Our research is funded by

  • Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust
  • Department of Conservation
A typical New Zealand southern beech (Nothofagaceae) forest ecosystem.
Measurement of seedling regeneration and growth as a component of tree population dynamics.
We use drones (UAVs) to capture imagery of forest sites to enable monitoring of canopy condition over time.
Forest dieback, visible on the mountainside behind the AUT School of Science van, is becoming increasingly evident as New Zealand experiences more extreme and frequent droughts.