A CRICKET BOY A long time ago, cricket fight ing caught on in the im pe rial court, with the em peror

lead ing the fad. A lo cal magis trate in Huayin, who wanted to win the favor of the mon arch, tried in ev ery way to get him the best fight ing crick ets. He had a strat egy for doing so: He man aged to get a cricket that was very good at fight ing. He then made his sub or dinates go to the heads of each vil lage and force them to send in a constant sup ply of fight ing crickets. He would send to the im pe rial court the crick ets that could beat the one he was keeping. The o ret i cally, everything should have worked smoothly. How ever, as the mag is trate was ex -tremely zeal ous to please the em peror, he meted out harsh pun ish ment on any vil lage heads who failed to ac com plish their tasks. The vil lage heads in turn shifted the bur den to the poor vil lag ers, who had to search for the crick ets. If they failed to catch them, they had to pur chase them from some -one else, or they had to pay a levy in cash. The small in sects suddenly be came a rare com mod ity. Specu la tors hoarded good crick ets, buy -ing them at a bar gain and selling them for an ex or bi tant price. Many vil lage heads worked hand in hand with the spec u la tors to make prof its. In so do ing, they bank rupted many a fam ily. Cheng Ming was one such vil lager. The head of his vil lage del egated part of his du ties to him because he found Cheng Ming easy to push around. Cheng Ming did not want to bully his fel low vil -lag ers as the vil lage head did him, so he of ten had to pay cash out of his own pocket when he failed to col lect any com pe tent crickets. Soon the little proper ties he had were drain ing away, and he went into a se vere de pres sion. One day, he said to his wife that he wanted to die. “Death is easy, but what will our son do without you?” asked his wife, glancing at their only son, sleep ing on the kang. “Why can’t we look for the crick ets our selves in stead of buy ing them? Per haps we’ll strike some good luck.” Cheng Ming gave up the idea of sui cide and went to search for crick ets. Armed with a tiny bas -ket of cop per wires for catching crick ets and a num ber of small bamboo tubes for holding them, he went about the te dious task. Each day he got up at dawn and did not re turn un til late in the eve ning. He searched beneath brick de bris, dike crev ices, and in the weeds and bushes. Days went by, and he caught only a few me di o cre crick ets that did not mea sure up to the mag istrate’s stan dards. His wor -ries increased as the dead line drew closer and closer. The day for cricket de liv ery fi nally came, but Cheng Ming could not pro duce any good ones. He was clubbed a hundred times on the buttocks, a form of corpo ral pun ish ment in the ancient Chi -nese ju di cial sys tem. When he was re leased the next day, he could barely walk. The wound on his buttocks con fined him to bed for days and fur ther delayed his search for crick ets. He thought of com -mit ting suicide again. His wife did not know what to do. Then they heard about a hunchbacked for tune-teller who was visiting the vil lage. Cheng Ming’s wife went to see him. The for tune-teller gave her a piece of pa per with a pic ture on it. It was a pa vil ion with a jiashan (rock gar den) be hind it. On the bushes by the jiashan sat a fat male cricket. Be side it, how ever, lurked a large toad, ready to catch the in sect with its long, elas tic tongue. When the wife got

he saw the cricket. Back home. As Cheng Ming was dress ing his son for burial the next morn ing. . Cheng Ming planned to take it to the vil -lage head. cheeping at him. Sure enough. The cou ple traced the sound to a small cricket on the door step.” he gave a sigh of re lief and went to tell his best friends in the village the good news. Cheng Ming could not go to sleep. In stead. “Well.” his wife re minded him. Pan icked. The father’s fury in stantly gave way to sor row. how ever. the boy went out of the room. he ac ci den tally squashed the insect when he fi nally got hold of it. when the big cricket jumped out and hopped away. He wanted to put the lit tle cricket to the test be fore send ing it to the vil lage head. Cheng Ming sprang up and jumped to the floor.home. the cricket looked smart and ener getic. “Well. He caught the big. he took the jar and wanted to have a peek at the cricket. the lit tle cricket jumped onto his chest. Un cer tain of its ca pa bil i ties. The par ents grieved again for the loss of their son.” Cheng Ming thought. for it was very small. he felt the body still warm. He was about to catch it. hop ing that he would re vive. when it jumped nim bly on to a wall. Doesn’t the tem ple on the east side of our vil lage have a rock gar den? That must be it. as if he were in a trance. she showed the pa per to her hus band. The grieved parents laid their son on the kang and la mented over his body the en tire night. when Cheng Ming came a few steps closer. but it showed no sign of flee ing. forget ting the pain in his but tocks. dashed their hopes. he care fully placed the cricket in a jar he had pre pared for it and stowed the jar away in a safe place. tears in his eyes. it’s better than noth ing. Cheng Ming’s nine-year-old son was very cu ri ous. He searched inside and outside the house. Sud denly they heard a cricket chirp ing. but to his par ents’ dismay. Grad u ally the boy came back to life. only to lo cate him in a well at the cor ner of the court yard. and the toad squat ting nearby in the rock gar den at the back of the tem ple. When he fished him out. Im me di ately he put the boy back on the kang. He was re mov ing the lid care fully. vow ing to teach the lit tle scoun drel a good les son. “Good heav ens! What’re you go ing to say to your fa ther when he comes back?” the mother said in dis tress and dread. Cheng Ming be came dis traught when he saw the dead cricket. but in a flurry. The ap pear ance of the cricket. he was un con scious. the boy was al ready dead. Cheng Ming limped to the temple with the sup port of a make shift crutch. Though small. “This is the for tune-teller’s hint at the lo ca tion where I can find a per fect cricket to ac com plish my task!” he ex claimed. “Ev ery thing will be over to morrow. He could n’t be lieve that all his hopes had been dashed in a sec ond. He tip toed to ward it. the boy tried to catch the flee ing cricket with his hands. Seeing his fa ther was gone. take a closer look and think. With out a word. He looked around for his son. black male cricket just be fore the toad got hold of it.” So say ing. “But we don’t have a pa vil ion in our village.

what’s the use of keep ing it any way?” he thought. With great wrath. Be fore the lit tle crea ture planted its small but sharp teeth into the neck of the big cricket. Cheng Ming’s small in sect seemed trans fixed. At last. The young man goaded and taunted him. The little cricket hopped out of the jar in time to dodge the at tack. The lit tle cricket chirped vic -toriously. Cheng Ming went to a young man from a rich fam ily in his neigh bor hood. Cheng Ming. The story of a cricket fight ing a rooster soon spread through -out the vil lage and beyond. When they took a closer look.The next morning. “You can’t judge it only by its ap pear ance. hold ing his jar tight. When they put the two crick ets to gether in a jar. it sim ply would not budge. along with the vil lage head. The bat tle be tween the lit tle cricket and the rooster ended with the same re sult: The rooster sped away in great pain. when a big rooster rushed over to peck at the lit tle cricket in the jar. No mat ter how the young man prodded it to fight. it charged the gi ant op po nent head on. cheng Ming and the young man were com ment ing on the lit tle cricket’s ex traor di nary prow ess. but the mag is trate re fused on the ground that Cheng Ming’s cricket was too small. The rooster then went for it a sec ond time. The sud den burst of ac tion stunned both the young man and Cheng Ming. sent the cricket to the mag is trate and asked for a test fight with his mas ter cricket. scream ing in ag ony. having heard him boast ing about an “in vin ci ble” cricket that he wanted to sell for a high price. The young man burst into a guf faw. it sud denly seemed to have run out of pa tience.” Cheng Ming said to the young man. The next day. He or dered a big rooster brought to his office. This sud den turn of events baf fled Cheng Ming and the onlook ers. how can a cricket fight a rooster?” asked the mag is trate.” “Non sense. it won’t hurt to give a try. Cheng Ming hes itated. be cause his lit tle cricket seemed no match for this gigan tic insect.When the young man showed his cricket. “Well.” Cheng Ming pro claimed with great pride. “There’s no way my lit tle cricket could sur vive a con fron ta tion with your big guy. and Cheng Ming felt ex ceed ingly happy and proud. “I don’t think you have heard its rooster-fight ing story. to the great em bar rass ment of Cheng Ming. If the lit tle cricket is a good-for-noth ing. they could not be lieve their eyes: The lit tle cricket was gnaw ing on the rooster’s bloody comb. The mag is trate was first as ton ished and then pleased. think ing that Cheng Ming would quit tell ing his tall tales when his cricket be -came the bird’s snack. As the young man spurred the lit tle cricket on. Cheng Ming decided to take a risk. think ing that he fi nally had the very in sect that could win him the em peror’s fa vor. but sud denly be gan to shake its head vi o lently. To fight this mon ster would be to con demn his dwarf to death. He had a golden cage . the lit tle cricket chirping tri um phantly on its heels. the ter ri fied young man fished the big in sect out of the jar just in time and called off the con test.

“I’m so tired and hungry. A year later. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was such fun! You know what? The great est fun I had was my fight with a couple of roost ers!” Ecological succession Ecological succession. What amused the em peror most was that the little creature could even dance to the tune of his court mu sic! Ex tremely pleased with the magic little crea ture. The mag is trate. The first words he ut tered to his ju bilant par ents were. Hydrosere Community in freshwater Lithosere Community on rock Psammosere Community on sand Xerosere Community in dry area Halosere Community in saline body (e. he told them. In many cases more than one seral stage evolves until climax conditions are attained. and I fought a lot of other crick ets. Plac ing it cau tiously in the cage.” Af ter a hot meal. refers to more or less predictable and orderly changes in the composition or structure of an ecological community. he took it to the em peror. and it de feated them one by one. Depending on the substratum and climate.[2] A prisere is a collection of seres making up the development of an area from non-vegetated surfaces to a climax community.g. Seral communities A seral community is an intermediate stage found in an ecosystem advancing towards its climax community. Cheng Ming’s son came out of his stu por. The em peror pit ted the lit tle cricket against all his vet eran com bat ant crick ets. a marsh) Climax community . in turn exempted Cheng Ming from his lev ies in cash as well as crick ets.man u factured for the little cricket. the em peror re warded the mag is trate lib er ally and pro moted him to a higher po sition. now a gov er nor. a seral community can be one of the following: A hydrosere community. a fundamental concept in ecology. “I dreamed that I had be come a cricket. to the great surprise and joy of his par ents.

The wildfire removes the mature vegetation and decomposers. in California. There is no net annual accumulation of organic matter in a climax community mostly. The climax ecosystem is balanced. soil nutrients. Individuals in the climax stage are replaced by others of the same kind. The life or growth forms indicate the climatic type. slope exposure. It has a wide diversity of species. This is known as catastrophic climax. soil. It is an index of the climate of the area. Characteristics of climax The vegetation is tolerant of environmental conditions. Edaphic Climax When there are more than one climax communities in the region.The final or stable community in a sere is the climax community or climatic vegetation. development of Maple-beech climax community over moist soil. it is called edaphic climax. The annual production and use of energy is balanced in such a community. For example. or other disturbances are such that a climatic climax cannot develop. chaparral vegetation is the final vegetation. A rapid development of herbaceous vegetation follows until the shrub dominance is re-established. It is self-perpetuating and in equilibrium with the physical habitat. Disclimax . between uptake of nutrients from the soil and the return of nutrient by litter fall to the soil. Succession ends in an edaphic climax where topography. and complex food chains. a well-drained spatial structure. There is equilibrium between gross primary production and total respiration. Climatic climax is theoretical and develops where physical conditions of the substrate are not so extreme as to modify the effects of the prevailing regional climate. between energy used from sunlight and energy released by decomposition. For example. water. Catastrophic Climax Climax vegetation vulnerable to a catastrophic event such as a wildfire. fire. Types of climax Climatic Climax If there is only a single climax and the development of climax community is controlled by the climate of the region. fire. Thus the species composition maintains equilibrium. and animal activity. topography. it is termed as climatic climax. modified by local conditions of the substrate such as soil moisture.

leaching or the deposition of silt and clays can alter the nutrient content and water relationships in the ecosystems. whereas in primary succession the soil itself must be formed. a community that has life forms higher than those in the expected climatic climax is postclimax. Shadetolerant species will invade the area. a lava flow. overgrazing by stock may produce a desert community of bushes and cacti where the local climate actually would allow grassland to maintain itself. These changes include accumulation of organic matter in litter or humic layer. Seasonal and cyclic succession Unlike secondary succession. whereas Postclimax strands develop in more moist and cooler areas than that of surrounding climate. and seeds and other living things must come from outside the area. glacial tills. and floods. If the community has life forms lower than those in the expected climatic climax. If the community development is proceeding in an area from which a community was removed it is called secondary succession. or shift soil about (as termites. Allogenic succession is caused by external environmental influences and not by the vegetation. The structure of the plants themselves can also alter the community. alteration of soil nutrients. they produce shade on to the developing forest floor that tends to exclude light-requiring species.) Secondary succession is usually more rapid as the colonizing area is rich in leftover soil. Subclimax The prolonged stage in succession just preceding the climatic climax is subclimax. Preclimax and Postclimax In certain areas different climax communities develop under similar climatic conditions. change in pH of soil by plants growing there. These Causes of plant succession Autogenic succession can be brought by changes in the soil caused by the organisms there. Preclimax strips develop in less moist and hotter areas. which is not the climatic or edaphic climax for the given site. and . wind storms. is maintained by man or his domestic animals. Secondary succession arises on sites where the vegetation cover has been disturbed by humans or other animals (an abandoned crop field or cut-over forest. seed dispersers and herbivores. such as a newly exposed rock or sand surface.When a stable community. For example. ants. it is designated as Disclimax (disturbance climax) or anthropogenic subclimax (man-generated). when larger species like trees mature. Animals also play an important role in allogenic changes as they are pollinators. the process is known as primary succession. For example. Types of succession Primary and secondary succession If the development begins on an area that has not been previously occupied by a community. or a newly formed lake. organic matter and seeds of the previous vegetation. it is called preclimax. They can also increase nutrient content of the soil in certain areas. or natural forces such as water. For example soil changes due to erosion. these types of vegetation change are not dependent on disturbance but are periodic changes arising from fluctuating species interactions or recurring events.

This may create regeneration sites that favor certain species. As the climate warmed at the end of each ice age. great successional changes took place. 3. Stabilization: Reaction phase leads to development of a climax community. The tundra vegetation and bare glacial till deposits underwent succession to mixed deciduous forest. Clement's theory of succession/Mechanisms of succession F. Nudation: Succession begins with the development of a bare site. various species began to compete for space. succession is a process involving several phases: 1. . 6. but on a much longer time-scale than any other. His theory of succession had a powerful influence on ecological thought. and spread. Geological and climatic catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions. called Nudation (disturbance).moles do) creating patches in the habitat. earthquakes. meteors. avalanches. 5. and high wind also bring allogenic changes. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns will promote changes in communities. Migration: It refers to arrival of propagules. Ecesis: It involves establishment and initial growth of vegetation. floods. light and nutrients. The greenhouse effect resulting in increase in temperature is likely to bring profound Allogenic changes in the next century. fires. 2. According to Clement. Clement's concept is usually termed classical ecological theory.E. Competition: As vegetation became well established. Climatic factors may be very important. Reaction: During this phase autogenic changes affect the habitat resulting in replacement of one plant community by another. 4. Clement (1916) developed a descriptive theory of succession and advanced it as a general ecological concept. grew. This phase is called competition.

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