Possums are selective browsers and defoliate preferred plant species. They have killed some of the canopy trees in this forest, but have had little effect on neighbouring trees. When a large proportion of a tree’s leaves are eaten in each growing season, it can decline in vigour and then die. Over long periods of sustained browsing, the composition of the forest changes – favoured species such as rātā, kāmahi, tree fuchsia and five-finger die and are replaced by plants that are not palatable to possums.
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