Long-term vegetation and climate history of the subantarctic islands

Assessing ecological change on New Zealand’s subantarctic islands since the last glaciation

The Landcare Research palaeoecology group have a long history of research on the vegetation and climate dynamics of the subantarctic Snares, Auckland and Campbell islands stretching back to the 1950s.

Our work has included studies of soils, vegetation, birds, insects and introduced plants and animals. We are the custodian of a record of vegetation change on Campbell Island in the form of repeat-remeasured vegetation plots and photo-points, as well as numerous archived peat cores, surface samples, and tree ring cores taken from the islands during three expeditions (1994, 1999 and 2013). 

Current analyses of peat cores, tree ring cores and vegetation plots are underway to understand:

  • vegetation change in response to past climates
  • tree line ecotones in relation to plant functional traits
  • tree ring analyses in relation to treeline and recent climate change
  • the timing of establishment and process of invasion by the tree daisy (Olearia lyallii) on the Auckland Islands
  • the timing and spread of peat development on Campbell Island
  • detecting prehistoric and historic human impacts on the islands

Key contact

Contact Matt McGlone Matt McGlone
Contact Janet Wilmshurst Janet Wilmshurst

Key collaborators

Chris Turney and Jonathan Palmer (University of New South Wales); Sarah Richardson (Landcare Research)


Landcare Research Core Research Funding