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Changes in Ecosystems: Ecological Succession. What is Ecological Succession?. Natural, gradual changes in the types of species that live in an area Can be primary or secondary The gradual replacement of one plant community by another through natural processes over time.

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Changes in Ecosystems:Ecological Succession


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What is Ecological Succession?

  • Natural, gradual changes in the types of species that live in an area

  • Can be primary or secondary

  • The gradual replacement of one plant community by another through natural processes over time


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Primary Succession

  • Begins in a place without any soil:

    • Sides of volcanoes

    • Landslides

    • Flooding

  • First, lichens that do not need soil to survive grow on rocks

  • Next, mosses grow to hold newly made soil

  • Known as PIONEER SPECIES


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    Pioneer Species

    Low, growing moss plants trap moisture and prevent soil erosion

    Lichens break down rock to form soil.


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    Primary Succession

    • Soil starts to form as lichens and the forces of weather and erosion help break down rocks into smaller pieces

    • When lichens die, they decompose, adding small amounts of organic matter to the rock to make soil


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    Primary Succession

    • Simple plants like mosses and ferns can grow in the new soil


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    Primary Succession

    • The simple plants die, adding more organic material (nutrients to the soil)

    • The soil layer thickens, and grasses, wildflowers, and other plants begin to take over


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    Primary Succession

    • These plants die, and they add more nutrients to the soil

    • Shrubs and trees can survive now


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    Primary Succession

    • Insects, small birds, and mammals have begun to move into the area

    • What was once bare rock, now supports a variety of life


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    Secondary Succession

    • Begins in a place that already has soil and was once the home of living organisms

    • Occurs faster and has different pioneer species than primary succession

    • Example: after forest fires


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    Climax Community

    • A stable group of plants and animals that is the end result of the successionprocess

    • Does not always mean big trees

      • Grasses in prairies

      • Cacti in deserts


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