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10 Disturbance and Succession

Learning Objec9ves
A"er studying this chapter you should be able to 1. Explain the dierences between gap-phase disturbances and stand-replacing ones. 2. Describe how disturbance is followed by a successional recovery, but not necessarily back to the original kind of ecosystem. 3. Explain the broad paIerns and mechanisms of successional recoveries aJer disturbance. 4. Discuss the key dierences between primary and secondary succession.

Learning Objec9ves
5. Explain how the paIerns and processes of natural disturbances can be emulated to soJen the environmental impacts of anthropogenic harves9ng and management systems.

Destruc9on of part of a community. Community-level recovery: succession. Wide range of spa5al scales. Wide range of temporal scales.

Beginning succession aJer a re in a jack-pine forest in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Smaller-scale Disturbances
Gap-phase disturbances occur at a small scale in an otherwise intact community. Gaps caused by: Death of a single tree in a forest. Small landslides. Diggings by animals such as prairie dogs.

Microsuccession restores the community in the gap created by a fallen tree. (Shown here: Hardwood forest in southern Ontario.)

Large-scale Disturbances
Stand-replacing disturbances aect the en9re community. Disturbance caused by: Wildre. Windstorms. Pests and diseases. Glacia9on.

In the prairies and boreal forest, res belong to natural ecosystem dynamics.

Mechanisms of Succession in a Boreal Forest

In boreal forests, aspens usually end up being replaced with conifers as the forest ages.
Aspen seedlings (shade intolerant) Spruce seedlings (shade tolerant)
Boreal Mixedwoods

So, beneath the Aspen canopy there is young Spruce and Fir (not Aspen).

Meg Krawchuk (2006)

In the boreal, forest re frequency strongly aects how the forest changes through 9me. Aspens inhibit re while spruce makes re more likely! Spruce seeds require heat to germinate.

Primary Succession
Succession in an ini5ally abio5c habitat Volcanic erup9ons. Glacial retreat. Landslides. Sand dune succession.

Primary succession on a scree slope in the Swiss Alps with Campanula cenisia.

Secondary Succession
Some life survives the disturbance, such as seed bank, below- ground organisms, soil microbes. Examples: Fire. Abandoned elds. Storm damage.

Secondary succession starts with presence of organisms.

PaIerns of Succession
No intervening disturbance. A sequence of community types (seral stages). The seral stages together form a sere. A stable community develops, depending on enduring site features, species present and stochas9c factors.
Sedge meadow is a seral stage in succession following a collapse of a beaver dam in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario.

Temperate Forest

Ini9al seral stages dominated by ruderal plants and survivors. Pioneer trees are fast-growing and shade-intolerant, with good dispersal ability. Shade-tolerant trees increasingly dominate over 9me.
Fig. 10.2., p. 300

Begins with a young lake or pond; e.g., aJer glacial mel9ng. Ini9ally oligotrophic, sediment accumula9on slow. It may become more nutrient-rich over 9me. Eventually, the en9re lake/pond may turn to a wetland.
Fig. 10.3., p. 301

Primary Succession at Glacier Bay

Reiners et al. (1971) studied changes in plant species richness during succession.

Successional Mechanisms in Rocky Inter9dal Zone

Sousa inves9gated mechanisms behind succession of algae and barnacles in inter9dal boulder elds (where successional changes occur much faster than in forests).

Climax a predictable endpoint

According to Frederick Edaphic climax: related Clements, this is the to local soil condi9ons. nal stage of succession. Disclimax: Regular Monoclimax: under disturbance. In case of given condi9ons, all re: pyroclimax. successions lead to Polyclimaxes: mul9ple same end-point and it is steady-state endpoints caused by the local are possible depending, climate. e.g., topography, slope, exposure.

Facilita9on Model
Earlier seral stages are required for later stages to occur. E.g., lichens and mosses create a substrate for grasses and herbs, which create substrate for trees. Leave nutrients and shade.

Tolerance Model
Species vary in their ability to u9lize resources and tolerate certain condi9ons. E.g., colonizing species are displaced at later seral stages as they cannot tolerate the shady condi9ons.

On an abandoned farmland the vegeta9on becomes increasingly shade-tolerant over 9me.

Inhibi9on Model
Early successional species prevent or delay the establishment of other species. E.g.: Later species only can establish when some of the earlier ones die (herbivore, disease, microdisturbance), crea9ng an opportunity.

Successional Mechanisms in Rocky Inter9dal Zone Sousas study of inter9dal zone succession tested the inhibi9on model:
If the inhibi9on model is occurring, early successional species should be inhibi9ng the establishment of later successional species.

Facilita9on Example
Turner (1983) Algae and surfgrass coloniza9on on rocks Surfgrass aIach seed pods to algae Tested if this was facilita9on

Frequency of Disturbance
Return frequency of a disturbance can be regular or unpredictable. Tides, cold or dry seasons, and spring oods are regular and predictable. Wildres can be fairly regular but not exactly Winter is predictable. Organisms can adapt to it predictable. e.g., plants seed dormancy Volcanic erup9ons are irregular.

Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis

Species richness is the highest at intermediate levels of disturbance. At high levels of disturbance, many species fail to get established. At low disturbance levels, compe99vely superior species suppress the others.

Connell (1975)

Mean number of plants per plot in sand-dunes is the highest at intermediate levels of rabbit grazing.
Fig. 9.24, p. 268

Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis (IDH)

species richness

richness. richness.

Species richness

Disturbance and Species Richness in the Inter9dal Zone Sousa (1979) studied eects of disturbance on species richness of algae and invertebrates growing on boulders in the inter9dal zone.
Predicted level of disturbance depends on boulder size. Large boulders require more force to move.

1 4 2

Average species richness

4 3 2 1 0 Small Medium Large

Boulder size (Disturbance = High Medium Low)

Timber Harves9ng
3 years aJer clearcut

Emula5on silviculture tries to mimic natural disturbances, such as re.

20 years aJer clearcut

Logging Prac9ces
Prevalent even in highly fragmented landscapes. Edge crea9on and loss of interior habitat. Many small woodlots are at risk of degrada9on due to loss of interior habitat.
Private Public

Silvicultural Systems
Even-aged Systems
Clearcut Systems

Uneven-aged Systems
Selec9on Systems

Natural disturbance
Non-uniform size of patches Less frequent disturbance Leaves woody debris Nutrients retained

Uniform size of patches More frequent harvest Leaves liIle woody debris Nutrients removed