• Conifer;
  • General Additive Model;
  • Moisture availability;
  • Nothofagus;
  • Solar radiation;
  • Species distribution
  • Allan (1961);
  • Connor & Edgar (1987)

Abstract. A dataset of some 10 000 plots was used to describe the climatic relationships of 33 widespread New Zealand tree species. Estimates of mean annual temperature, temperature seasonality, mean annual solar radiation, and moisture balance were derived from mathematical surfaces fitted to climate station data. Plots were also categorized into five lithological classes and three drainage classes. Generalized additive models were used to examine species/environment relationships. Mean annual temperature and mean annual solar radiation are most strongly correlated with current tree distributions, followed by moisture balance, temperature seasonality, lithology, and drainage. Most broad-leaved tree species other than Nothofagus spp. reach their greatest levels of occurrence in warm, moist environments with high solar radiation. In contrast, Nothofagus spp. generally reach their greatest levels of occurrence in cooler and/or lower insolation environments, and all have lower levels of occurrence on rhyolitic substrates which have resulted from large-scale geomorphic disturbance, mostly over the past few thousand years. Although coniferous species have widely differing climatic optima, many are biased towards lithological classes characterized either by large-scale geomorphic disturbance or harsh edaphic conditions. The relevance of these results to particular synecological questions is briefly discussed. Continuing adjustments in the range of slow-dispersing Nothofagus spp. are strongly suggested, and the climatic suitability of extensive rhyolitic basins in the central North Island, from which these species are largely absent, is confirmed.