Nothofagus Decline in New Zealand: Separating Causes from Symptoms

  • G. Hosking


Four endemic species of Nothofagus form a major element of New Zealand”s forests. They occur throughout the country, although with a patchy distribution in the northwest. A detailed account of their ecology, utilization and management is provided by Wardle (1984). Dieback of beech in New Zealand is not a recent phenomenon it has been reported by Cockayne (1926), Conway (1949) and Elder (1959, 1963, 1965) and variously attributed to insects, fungi, earthquake and climate change. The process of stand replacement in these forests has been characterized as synchronized cohort mortality (Ogden 1988), commonly initiated by catastrophic wind or snow damage (Wardle and Allen 1983). Historically, where no such major disturbances were obvious, forest managers commonly focused on the insects and diseases directly associated with dying trees and urged research into these causes of decline. Although forest health specialists were unconvinced by an argument that suggested indigenous insects were a primary cause of death of indigenous tree species, it was not until the late 1970s that any attempt was made to investigate the underlying causes of insect- and disease-related dieback (Hosking and Kershaw 1985). Three such areas of beech forest were investigated between 1978 and 1987.


Beech Forest Nothofagus Forest Indigenous Tree Species Tree Radial Growth Stand Replacement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cockayne L (1926) Monograph on the New Zealand beech forests, Part 1. The ecology of the forests and taxonomy of the beeches. Bull NZ State For Serv 4, 71 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Conway MJ (1949) Beetle damage to beech forest. NZ J For 6:66–67Google Scholar
  3. Elder NL (1959) Vegetation of the Kaweka Range. New Zealand Forest Service, For Res Inst Tech Pap 27Google Scholar
  4. Elder NL (1963) Vegetation of the Kaimanawa Ranges. New Zealand Forest Service, For Res Inst Tech Pap 40Google Scholar
  5. Elder NL (1965) Vegetation of the Ruahine Range. New Zealand Forest Service, For Res Inst Tech Pap 45Google Scholar
  6. Faulds W (1977) A pathogenic fungus associated with Platypus attack on New Zealand Nothofagus species. NZ J For Sci 7:384–396Google Scholar
  7. Hosking GP, Hutcheson JA (1986) Hard beech (Nothofagus truncata) decline on the Mamaku Plateau, North Island, New Zealand, NZ J Bot 24:263–269Google Scholar
  8. Hosking GP, Hutcheson JA (1988) Mountain beech (Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides) decline in the Kaweka Range, North Island, New Zealand. NZ J Bot 26:393–400Google Scholar
  9. Hosking GP, Kershaw DJ (1985) Red beech death in the Maruia Valley, South Island, New Zealand, NZ J Bot 23:201–211Google Scholar
  10. Hosking GP, Maenzie RMJ, Zondag R, Hutcheson J A (1990) Effect of Neomycta pulicaris (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) on hard beech Nothofagus truncata. In: Watt AD, Leather SR, Hunter MD, Kidd NAC (eds) Population dynamics of forest insects. Intercept, Andover Hampshire, p 105Google Scholar
  11. Hutcheson J A (1990) Characterization of terrestrial insect communities using quantified, Malaise trapped Coleoptera. Ecol Entomol 15:143–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Manion PD (1981) Tree disease concepts. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  13. Mueller-Dombois D (1988) Towards a unifying theory of stand-level dieback. Geournal 17:249–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ogden J (1988) Forest dynamics and stand level dieback in New Zealand”s Nothofagus forests. Geournal 17:225–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Wardle J A (1984) The New Zealand beeches; ecology, utilization and management. New Zealand Forest Service, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  16. Wardle JA, Allen BB (1983) Dieback in New Zealand Nothofagus forests. Pac Sci 37:397–404Google Scholar
  17. White TCR (1986) Weather, Eucalyptus dieback in New England and a general hypothesis of the cause of dieback. Pac Sci 40:58–78Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Hosking
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest Research InstituteRotoruaNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations