Ecosystems are communities of living things that interact with each other and their physical environment. The many different ecosystems of the Waikato provide us with goods and services that we must manage sustainably for our future.
Ecosystems are made up of:
The photograph shows ecosystem variety from the sand dunes, lake and salt marsh to native forest on the hills.
Just as the human body 'system' relies on the circulation of blood and oxygen and the conversion of food to energy, an 'ecosystem' relies on the circulation of:
Ecosystems are our ‘natural capital’, providing humans with many:
Ecosystems in the Waikato region result from our diverse landscapes, climate and the effects of human settlement and resource use. Today, the region is dominated by exotic ecosystems, that is ecosystems that are dominated by species introduced to New Zealand:
Our remaining native ecosystems include:
Check out the map of land use in the Waikato that shows dominant ecosystem types.
Find out more about biodiversity in the Waikato region.
New Zealand has an unusually high number of species that are found naturally nowhere else in the world. Some of them occur only in certain places in New Zealand such as the giant cane rush (Sporadanthus ferrugineus) which is found only in Waikato wetlands.
More than 90 per cent of our freshwater fish and insects, 65 per cent of plants and 57 per cent of land birds are found nowhere else in the world. Many are endangered. In addition, some 6,000 exotic species have ‘escaped’ or been released into the countryside.
The table below shows the status of a range of species found in the Waikato region (not including marine species).
|Mammals||2||17||2||There are 2 land based native mammals the short-tailed and long-tailed bats. Exotic species include deer, rats, cats, pigs, goats, mustelids and possums. Excludes farmed animals and marine mammals for example dolphins and seals.|
|Birds||124||36||36||Native birds comprise 75 estuarine and seabirds, 20 wetland birds, 29 forest and scrub species.|
|Reptiles||19||0||7||Tuatara, skinks, geckos (excludes marine turtles and sea snakes which are occasional visitors to New Zealand waters).|
|Amphibians||2||3||2||All are frogs.|
|Invertebrates||unknown||unknown||>4||Includes the Mahoenui giant weta, the Mercury Islands tusked weta, and the Moehau stag beetle.|
|Plants||>9003||>6604||>40||Estimate for higher plants only. Excludes mosses, liverworts and algae.|
|Freshwater Fish||19||10||7||For example eels and Inanga (whitebait).
Excludes estuarine fish, which migrate into rivers, for example mullet, flounder.
|Total||>1,066||>726||>98||> indicates minimum estimates.|