Ecosystem Succession: Definition, Types, and Examples

Ecosystem Succession

One of the most remarkable characteristics of life on Earth is that it expands to all regions where the environment permits it to thrive. Small plants and bacteria invade adverse areas where the soil is barren and hence cannot maintain life in a sustainable manner, recognising the region as a new ecological niche with no competition.

The pioneers, the creatures who originally inhabited the region, begin to die out as these tiny species take over. This vital process permits the dead mass to disintegrate into the soil, effectively providing nutrients to the plants that remain in the environment. Larger species may now be sustained since more nutrients are accessible in the local environment, and this process can have a multiplying impact in the long run. This is referred to as succession.

Succession is most common in regions where there are no other species to compete with. In changing temperatures, however, succession can occur, with less suitable species giving way to the area’s more evolutionarily evolved species.

A climax community emerges in a more stable environment, with the climax being that the group maintains a long-term relative balance. Because the most evolved species have established their position and weaker creatures are unable to compete, succession is no longer a concern.

Factors Affecting Succession

The kinds of creatures that inhabit such regions are determined by a variety of variables. The following are some of these factors:

Climate: Specifically, temperature and precipitation. Different species require different quantities of sunshine and temperature to function at their best. The species that are most suited to a certain habitat, and those that may be found nearby, are more likely to be the pioneers, or at the peak of succession.

Soil: The types of creatures that live in an ecosystem is influenced by the soil. One important aspect is pH, since certain plants prefer an acidic to an alkaline environment, and vice versa. Because the soil might be sandy, loamy, or clay, the nature of the soil has a role in selecting which species are acceptable.

Human Intervention: Humans have radically affected the global environment, particularly since the industrial revolution. Pollution, such as acid rain, may change the way an ecosystem works and affect elements inside it. With this in mind, humans have a significant influence in determining which creatures are likely to thrive in a given environment.

Ecosystem Succession Citations
  • Ecological Succession of Polymicrobial Communities in the Cystic Fibrosis Airways. mSystems . 2020 Dec 1;5(6):e00809-20.
  • Marine Bacterioplankton Seasonal Succession Dynamics. Trends Microbiol . 2017 Jun;25(6):494-505.
  • A succession of theories: purging redundancy from disturbance theory. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc . 2016 Feb;91(1):148-67.
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