coral reef succession l.
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Coral Reef Succession. Ecological Succession. The progressive change in the species composition of an ecosystem. New Bare Substrate. Colonizing Stage. Successionist Stage. Climax Stage. Ecological Succession. 2 types of succession. SECONDARY. PRIMARY.

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ecological succession
Ecological Succession

The progressive change in the species composition of an ecosystem.

ecological succession3

New Bare Substrate

Colonizing Stage

Successionist Stage

Climax Stage

Ecological Succession

2 types of succession



  • Growth occurring after a disturbance changes a community without removing the soil
  • Growth occurs on newly exposed surfaces where no soil exists
  • Ex. Surfaces of volcanic eruptions
primary succession
Primary Succession

For example, new land created by a volcanic eruption is colonized by various living organisms

secondary succession
Secondary Succession

Disturbances responsible can include cleared and plowed land, burned woodlands


Mount St. Helens

Sep. 24, 1980

May 18, 1980


Mount St. Helens

Fireweed 1980 after eruption




Succession after Volcanic Eruption

What organisms would appear first?

How do organisms arrive, i.e., methods for dispersal?

Volcanic eruption creates

sterile environment

Hanauma Bay Tuff Ring

(shield volcano)


Early species improve habitat.

Ex. Early marine colonists provide a substrate conducive for settling of later arriving species.

First arrivals take precedence.

Competition for space, nutrients and light; allopathic chemicals.

As resources become scarce due to depletion and competition, species capable of tolerating the lowest resource levels will survive.

Mechanisms of Succession





high reproductive output

high growth rate

short life span

low competitive ability

low reproductive output

higher maternal investment per offspring

high competitive ability

long life span

slow growth rate

r & K Selected Species

Pioneer species- 1st species to colonize a newly disturbed area

r selected

r & K refer to parameters in logistic growth equation

Late successional species

K selected

successional models and their impacts p 133
Successional Models and their Impacts (p.133)
  • Case 1: No Disturbance (Competitive Exclusion Model)
  • Case 2: Occasional Strong Disturbance (Intermediate Disturbance Model)
  • Case 3: Constant Strong Disturbance (Colonial Model)

Case 1: No Disturbance

(Competitive Exclusion Model)

  • As the reef becomes complex, organisms
  • compete for space.
  • Dominant organism outcompetes other
  • species.
  • Occurs in stable environments.
  • Results in low species diversity.
  • Highly protected patch reefs within
  • lagoons or protected bays
  • Deeper water

Case 2: Occasional Strong Disturbance

(Intermediate Disturbance Model)

  • Storms and hurricanes allow for other
  • species to move in
  • Dominant species would not be allowed to
  • reach competitive exclusion
  • After each disturbance have a recovery
  • period
  • Area of high diversity

Case 3: Constant Strong Disturbance

(Colonial Model)

  • Constant exposure to disturbance
  • Shallow environment
  • High turnover of species
  • r-selected species

Case 3

Near reef crest

Case 2

Reef slope beneath

reef crest


Case 1

Deep reef slope

a) The slopes of a newly formed volcanic island

b) Wetlands in Texas, following Hurricane Rita

c) A receding glacier

d) A dried up lake

e) Primary succession would not occur on any of these.

Primary succession would take place on all of the following EXCEPT:



A “K” selected species generally has all of the following characteristics EXCEPT:

a) Large size

b) Short-lived

c) Good competitor

d) Constant population size

e) Slow population growth