Updating information on monitoring condition of frost flat heathlands, a critically threatened rare ecosystem in the Waikato region
Report: TR 2014/66
Author: MC Smale, NB Fitzgerald (Landcare Research)
Frost flats are one of the signature ecosystems of the Volcanic Plateau. They were created after vast quantities of pumice were deposited during the titanic eruptions that shaped the plateau. The pumice was washed from the surrounding hills and filled basins and valleys to form plains. These sites are at relatively high elevation, so are focal points for cold-air ponding and they suffer from year-round frosts. The pumice is naturally infertile, and the vegetation is typically dominated by monoao (Dracophyllum subulatum).
Frost flats are home to several threatened and rare plant and insect species and are Critically Endangered historically rare ecosystems in the Waikato region. However, they are threatened by a variety of factors, especially weed invasion.
Waikato Regional Council is monitoring these ecologically valuable areas in order to manage and protect them effectively, and to meet obligations to maintain and enhance biodiversity. The remaining frost flats (frost flat heathlands) at west Taupō have been identified as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs).
A network of permanent plots was initiated in January–May 2013 and January 2014 for the Waikato Regional Council to establish a baseline for monitoring change in the condition of the remaining substantial frost flat heathlands. The project objectives were:
- to establish a baseline for monitoring the condition – ‘ecological integrity’ – of significant frost flat heathlands remaining in the Waikato region, and
- to validate ecological information for SNA inventory by ground truthing.
|5.1||Diagnostic frost flast species|
|5.2||Forest precursor species|
|6||Discussion and conclusions|
|Appendix 1 - Common and scientific names of plants used in text|
|Appendix 2 - Flora of frost flat heathland in the Waikato region|
|Appendix 3 - Glossary of scientific terms|
|Appendix 4 - Metadata|