Ecological succession
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Ecological Succession. Examples of Changing Ecosystems. A forest could have been a shallow lake a thousand years ago. Mosses, shrubs, and small trees cover the concrete of a demolished building. Ecological Succession.

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Examples of Changing Ecosystems

  • A forest could have been a shallow lake a thousand years ago.

  • Mosses, shrubs, and small trees cover the concrete of a demolished building.


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Ecological Succession

  • Gradual process of change and replacement of the types of species in a community.

  • May take hundreds or thousands of years.


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Primary Succession survive.

  • Type of succession that occurs where there was no ecosystem before.

  • Occurs on rocks, cliffs, and sand dunes.


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  • Primary succession is very slow. survive.

  • Begins where there is no soil.

  • Takes several hundred years to produce fertile soil naturally.

  • First species to colonize bare rock would be bacteria and lichens.


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Lichens survive.

  • Do not require soil.

  • Colorful, flaky patches.

  • Composed of two species, a fungi and an algae.

  • The algae photosynthesize and the fungi absorbs nutrients from rocks and holds water.

  • Over time, they break down the rock.


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  • As the rocks breaks apart, water freezes and thaws on the cracks, which breaks up the rocks further.

  • When the lichens die, they accumulate in the cracks.

  • Then mosses begin to grow and die, leading to the creation of fertile soil.

  • Fertile soil is made up of the broken rocks, decayed organisms, water, and air.


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Mosses on rocks cracks, which breaks up the rocks further.


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Secondary Succession cracks, which breaks up the rocks further.

  • More common

  • Occurs on a surface where an ecosystem has previously existed.

  • Occurs on ecosystems that have been disturbed or disrupted by humans, animals, or by natural processes such as storms, floods, earthquakes, and volcanoes.


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Secondary Succession: Mt. St. Helens cracks, which breaks up the rocks further.

  • Erupted in 1980.

  • 44,460 acres were burned and flattened.

  • After the eruption, plants began to colonize the volcanic debris.

  • Pioneer species: the first organism to colonize any newly available area and begin the process of ecological succession.


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Fire and Secondary Succession other species.

  • Natural fire caused by lightening are a necessary part of secondary succession.

  • Some species of trees (ex: Jack pine) can only release their seeds after they have been exposed to the intense heat of a fire.

  • Minor forest fires remove brush and deadwood.


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Fire and Secondary Succession other species.

  • Some animals depend on fires because they feed on the newly sprouted vegetation.

  • Foresters allow natural fires to burn unless they are a threat to human life or property.


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Old-field Succession other species.

  • Occurs in farmland that has been abandoned.

  • Grasses and weeds grow quickly, and produce many seeds that cover large areas.


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Your Turn: HW water and light.

  • Create two flowcharts. One illustrating the steps of primary succession, one illustrating the steps of secondary succession.

  • You may use either pictures or words.

  • Use the following terms in your charts:


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