Donal van der Westhuizen from the University of Auckland is studying the impacts of kauri dieback on kauri forest ecosystem processes.
Donald's work has been based at a diseased site at Huia in the Waitakere Ranges. This study has measured changes in litterfall, soil respiration and understory vegetation.
Conclusions from his work so far include:
- Changes in litterfall quantity and composition may result in long-term changes in decomposition rates and soil chemistry
- Decreased reproductive capacity of infected kauri may affect the succession of kauri
- No difference in soil CO2 efflux suggests that roots still respire and/or accelerated microbial activity in the medium/highly infected sites
- Differences in temperature sensitivity indicates a change in root versus microbial respiration
- Changes in surrounding regenerative vegetation may result in long-term changes in forest composition.