Abstract. A quantitative study of relationships between forest pattern and environment in the central North Island, New Zealand, is based on forest composition data from ca. 2000 existing plots distributed throughout the forests of the region. Estimates of mean annual temperature, rainfall, and solar radiation are derived for each plot from mathematical surfaces fitted to climate station data. Estimates of the depth of the last major rhyolitic eruption, (Taupo Pumice, ca. 130 AD) are derived from isopach maps. A classification procedure is used to identify broad compositional groups. Generalised linear models are used to examine relationships between major species and climatic and other physical factors. Significant relationships are identified between the distributions of both plot groups and species, and climate, vulcanism, topography and drainage. Among these factors, temperature and/or solar radiation are indicated as major determinants of the regional forest pattern, with rainfall, topography, and drainage acting at a secondary level. The role of the Taupo Pumice eruption is more difficult to interpret, and its effects seem to have been greatly influenced by topography. Deep extensive deposits of tephra on flat‐to‐rolling sites close to the eruption centre have probably favoured the current dominance of these sites by more rapidly dispersing conifers. In contrast, on adjacent steep sites where forest destruction was likely to be less severe, slow‐dispersing Nothofagus species are largely dominant. Further work is needed to understand the factors favouring conifer dominance of the central basins and the degree to which Nothofagus species might expand their range in the future.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 1992
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