Study looks at the effects of kauri dieback on forest ecosystem

Donal van der Westhuizen from the University of Auckland is studying the impacts of kauri dieback on kauri forest ecosystem processes.

Donald's work has been based at a diseased site at Huia in the Waitakere Ranges.  This study has measured changes in litterfall, soil respiration and understory vegetation.

 Conclusions from his work so far include:

 - Changes in litterfall quantity and composition may result in long-term changes in decomposition rates and soil chemistry

 - Decreased reproductive capacity of infected kauri may affect the succession of kauri

 - No difference in soil CO2 efflux suggests that roots still respire and/or accelerated microbial activity in the medium/highly infected sites

- Differences in temperature sensitivity indicates a change in root versus microbial respiration

 - Changes in surrounding regenerative vegetation may result in long-term changes in forest composition.

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