Ecological succession types and processes | Primary and secondary succession

The term “succession” means a regular and consistent change in the community and functions of the ecological system occurring due to the influence of various factors. Succession is caused by natural changes, as well as human influence. Each ecosystem predetermines the existence of the following ecological system and its disappearance. This is a natural process that occurs due to the accumulation of energy in the ecosystem, microclimate changes and biotope transformations.

Essence of successions

Succession is the gradual improvement of an ecosystem. Succession can be traced most noticeably on the example of plants, it manifests itself in a change in vegetation, a change in their composition and the replacement of some dominant plants by others. Each succession can be divided into two main groups:

  1. Primary succession.
  2. Secondary.

Primary succession is the starting point, as it occurs in lifeless areas. In our time, almost all land is already occupied by various communities, so the emergence of areas free from living creatures has a local character. Examples of primary succession are:

  • settlement by communities on rocks;
  • settlement of separate territories in the desert.
  • Nowadays, primary succession is quite rare, but at some time every piece of land passed this stage.

    secondary succession

    Secondary or restorative succession occurs in a previously inhabited area. Such a succession can occur everywhere and manifest on various scale. Examples of secondary succession:

  • settlement of the forest after a fire;
  • overgrowing of an abandoned field;
  • settlement of the site after the avalanche came down, which destroyed all living things on the soil.
  • The causes of secondary succession are:

  • Forest fires;
  • deforestation;
  • plowing the land;
  • floods;
  • volcanic eruption.
  • The complete process of secondary succession lasts about 100-200 years. It begins when annual herbaceous plants appear on the plots. After 2-3 years, they are replaced by perennial grasses, then even stronger competitors shrubs. The final stage is the emergence of trees. Aspen, spruce, pine and oak grow, which ends the process of succession. This means that the restoration of the natural ecosystem in this area is fully completed.

    The main stages of the successional process

    The duration of succession depends on the lifespan of the organisms involved in the process of restoration or creation of an ecosystem. The speed is the shortest in ecosystems with a predominance of herbaceous plants, and the longest in a coniferous or oak forest. The main patterns of succession:

    1. At the initial stage, the diversity of species is insignificant, over time it increases.
    2. With the development of the process, the relationship between organisms increases. Symbiosis also increases, food chains become more complex.
    3. In the process of fixing succession, the number of individual free species decreases.
    4. With each stage of development, the interconnection of organisms in the existing ecosystem strengthens and takes root.

    The advantage of a fully formed ecosystem community over a young one is that it is able to withstand negative changes in the form of temperature changes and changes in humidity. Such a formed community can better resist chemical pollution of the environment. This provides an opportunity to realize the importance of natural ecosystems and the dangers of misuse of artificial ecosystems. Like the resistance of a mature community to physical factors, the productivity of an artificial community is important for human life, so it is so important to maintain a balance between them.

    Ecological succession types and processes | Primary and secondary succession
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