In the absence of exotic mammals, the beech forest system is strongly driven bottom-up. The sporadic heavy seeding of beech trees results in a cascade of population increases in the native fauna, without any known reciprocal effects. In dryland ecosystems, the nutrient pulses occur annually during spring flushes of herbaceous plants. In both the little modified beech forest and the highly human-impacted dryland ecosystems, mammalian introductions have been made at both the herbivore and predator trophic levels. These exotic additions have created strong top-down effects on indigenous fauna because predator abundance (stoat, ferret, and cat) is driven mainly by exotic prey species (mice and rabbits). Predator numbers can reach levels not normally possible without the introduced prey, and this can potentially lead to extinction of the native fauna. The worst scenario for native prey occurs when mice and rabbit numbers fluctuate widely. This leads to acute bouts of predation caused by the increases in predator numbers (in the case of stoats), or as ferrets and cats switch to native species following sudden declines in rabbit abundance. We now know enough about some processes in beech forest and dryland ecosystems to build prototype models that will help to predict the wider effects of controlling introduced species, identify critical knowledge gaps, and ultimately guide management decisions to achieve desired biodiversity outcomes.
|Title of host publication||Biological Invasions in New Zealand|
|Place of Publication||Heidelberg|
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|