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Ecological Succession

ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION

A bare patch of ground


No plant competition
Soil mobile and liable to
erosion
More extreme surface
microclimate
Drier environment

The same area 2


years later

Ecological succession
Progressive replacement of one community by another
through natural processes over time until the
development of a stable community (climax) is reached
Involves a directional, orderly and non-seasonal process
It involves colonization, establishment and extinction
which act on the plant species involved
Involves the formation of seres or seral communities,
which eventually advance to the formation of climax
community
Xerophytic habitat is converted into a mesophytic one
As succession progresses, species diversity increases

Causes of succession
Autogenic factors
those which are due to the presence or
growth of the plants themselves, eg., light
capture by leaves, water and nutrient uptake,
detritus production, nitrogen fixation, amount
of moisture in soil, etc.
Many species change the environment in
which they live in ways that make it less
unfavorable for themselves and more favorable
for others.

Allogenic factors

Factors external to the plants, such as climatic


factors, periodic fires, floods

Stages of succession
Pioneer stage- starts when hardy individuals of a
species invade or colonize the area; pioneer species such
as lichens and moss are able to tolerate harsh conditions

Seral stages- the intermediate stages of succession


Climax community- one that has reached the
stable stage; when extensive and well-defined, it is called
a biome; usually exhibits a large species diversity and
stability

Pioneer species can tolerate harsh


physical conditions better than other plant
species
Grow best where there is little
competition for space and resources

Lichen structure
a) algal part (Chlorophyta or Cyanophyta)
b) fungus part (Ascomycota or Basidiomycota)

Adaptation of moss to
unfavorable environment:
low thermal conductivity,
high porosity,
high water holding capacity, and
capacity to maintain nitrogen-fixing
symbioses with Cyanobacteria

Composites as early colonizers

Primary succession
occurs in an area that previously was devoid of
life;
may start from bare rocks or in areas in which
the soil is incapable of sustaining life as a result of
lava flows, newly formed sand dunes, or rocks left
from a retreating glacier;
The rate of succession is slow because of the
arduous process involved in soil formation

a) Volcanic rock

b) Transition from pond to land

Xerarch succession

Trend of succession in Lithosere


Pioneer
Community
1

Climax
Community

Seral Communities

Crustose
Foliose
Moss stage
lichens stage lichens stage
Herbs stage Shrub stage Forest stage
e.g
e.g
e.g
e.g
e.g
e.g
Polytrichum,
Rhizocarpus, Parmellia,
Eleusine,
Rhus,
Mesophytic
Tarula,
Rinodina,
Dermato
Aristida
Phytocarpus
trees
Grimmia
Lacanora
carpon

------------General trend of succession ------------->

Trend of succession in Lithosere


Parmellia
Rhizocarpon
Pioneer
Community

Rinodina

Seral
community
2

1
Dermatocarpon
Foliose
lichens stage
e.g
Parmellia,
Dermatocarpon

Crustose
lichens stage
e.g
Rhizocarpus,
Rinodina,
Lacanora

Lecanora

Trend of succession in
Lithosere
Polytrichum
Seral
community
3

Eleusine

Tortula

Seral
community
4

Moss stage
e.g
Polytrichum,
Tortula,
Grimmia

Herbs stage
e.g
Eleusine,
Aristida

Grimmia

Aristida

Trend of succession in Lithosere


Physocarpus

Seral
community
5

Climax
Community
6
Forest stage
e.g
Mesophytic
trees

Shrub stage
e.g
Rhus,
Physocarpus

Rhus

Secondary succession
Series of community changes which take place on a
previously colonized but disturbed or damaged habitat
Examples include areas which have been cleared of
existing vegetation such as after tree-felling in a
woodland, and destructive events such as fires
Other examples of disturbances: severe storms or
droughts, landslides, overgrazing, disease outbreak,
flooding
Begins in an area that already has soil
The disturbance leaves seeds, spores, or the
subterranean portions of plants present

Secondary succession
The reestablishment of a community in which most, but
not all organisms have been destroyed. Lodgepole pines
(a) will replace meadows in the absence of fire.
Prescribe fires (b) burned trees in the meadow (c).

Differences between primary and


secondary succession
Secondary succession is usually much quicker than
primary succession for the following reasons:
There is already an existing seed bank of suitable
plants in the soil.
Root systems undisturbed in the soil, stumps and
other plant parts from previously existing plants can
rapidly regenerate.
The fertility and structure of the soil has also already
been substantially modified by previous organisms to
make it more suitable for growth and colonization.

Hydrarch succession

Hydrarch succession

1. Submersed aquatic plants in the deeper water. 2.Emergent cattails and


bulrushes rooted in the mud of shallow water. 3. Willow thickets along the banks
of distant shoreline. 4. Conifer forest in drier, well drained soil above the willow
thickets.

a)Douglas firs and hemlocks in an old-growth forest b) the


same area a year after eruption of Mt Saint Helens

Grasses and sedges


encroaching on the
pond

In time, depending on local geological and


climatological conditions, the pond may
gradually turn into a meadow

A subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada


under invasion by lodgepole pines (Pinus
contorta).

Lodgepole pine
forest

Retrogression: Dense marsh


that was completely
washed away by a flash
flood occurring down the
canyon.

Comparison of plant, community, and ecosystem


characteristics between early and late stages of succession
Attribute
Plant Biomass
Plant Longevity
Seed Dispersal Characteristics
of Dominant Plants
Plant Morphology and
Physiology
Photosynthetic Efficiency of
Dominant Plants at Low Light
Rate of Soil Nutrient Resource
Consumption by Plants

Early Stages of Succession Late Stages of Succession


Small
Short

Large
Long

Well dispersed

Poorly dispersed

Simple

Complex

Low

High

Fast

Slow

Comparison of plant, community, and ecosystem


characteristics between early and late stages of succession
Plant Leaf Canopy Structure
Site of Nutrient Storage

Role of Decomposers in
Cycling Nutrients to Plants
Biogeochemical Cycling
Community Site
Characteristics
Ecosystem Stability
Plant Species Diversity
Life-History Type
Seed Longevity

Multilayered
Litter and Soil

Monolayer
Living Biomass and
Litter

Minor

Great

Open and Rapid

Closed and Slow

Extreme

Moderate (Mesic)

Low
Low
r
Long

High
High
K
Short

Species diversity- variety of species


within a region
Includes both species richness (# of
species) and species evenness (how
close in numbers each species in an
environment are) in a community.

The Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index, H, is


calculated using the following equation:
H = - Pi(lnPi) where Pi is the proportion of
each species in the sample.
Species

# found

Pi

ln(Pi)

Pi ln(Pi)

84

0.3281

-1.1144

-.03656

0.0156

-4.1589

-0.0650

91

0.3555

-1.0343

-0.3677

34

0.1328

-2.0188

-0.2681

43

0.1680

-1.7840

-0.2997

Total

256

1.0000

-1.3661

Community #1
Species
1
2
3
4
5
Total

# found
40
40
40
40
40

Pi

ln(Pi)

Pi ln(Pi)

Pi

ln(Pi)

Pi ln(Pi)

Community #2
Species

# found

1
2
3
4
5
Total

1
1
196
1
1