Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Subantarctic fungi, slime moulds and beetles

Since Captain William Bligh first set eyes on the Bounty Islands in 1788, the subantarctic islands of New Zealand have been as mysterious as they are beautiful. The five island archipelagos (Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, and Snares) that lie 48 to 35 degrees S are rich in oceanic bird and mammal life, and in 1988 all were set aside for protection as World Heritage areas. Although the macrofauna and flora have been well documented, the biodiversity of fungi, slime moulds, and their associated beetles have been little explored. This web site is an introduction to our ongoing studies that began in March 2000, when we intensively surveyed Campbell Island and a small portion of the Auckland Islands. These studies are an extension of earlier work carried out on the Australian-administered, but biogeographically closely related, Maquarie Island.

The aim of our research is to document the diversity and distribution of fungi, slime moulds and mycophagous beetles in cold-dominated, high-latitude regions of the Southern Hemisphere – the subantarctic. These data will be used to develop an understanding of the patterns of distribution of these organisms on the subantarctic islands, together with the ecological roles they play in this region. Most knowledge about the assemblages of fungi and their associated beetles in terrestrial ecosystems, and the ecological roles they play in these ecosystems, has been derived from studies carried out in temperate regions of the world. Knowledge about fungal and insect diversity and ecology in cold-dominated, high-latitude regions of the world is needed before we can understand the overall structure and function of these ecosystems.