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Ecological Succession

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Presentation on theme: "Ecological Succession"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecological Succession

2 Succession Fire, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters can change communities in a short period of time. Even without a disaster, communities change. May take hundreds or thousands of years. Succession The natural processes by which one community of organisms slowly replaces another in a certain area. 2 Types Primary Secondary

3 Succession Summary Succession Primary Secondary Creates new ecosystem
Restores previous ecosystem Example: New land created by volcanic eruption An area destroyed by fire

4 Primary Succession Primary Succession Steps
The series of changes that occur in an area where no ecosystem previously existed. Steps Land created by volcanic eruption or retreat of glacier No soil present Pioneer Species The first organisms to live in an area. Usually lichens or mosses that grow on rocks Break up the rocks to form soil. Soil development Seeds of plants land in new soil and begin to grow Several hundred-thousand years

5 Primary Succession

6 Primary Succession

7 Lichens 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. Lichens produce a weak acid that eats away at the rock and breaks it down into soil


9 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.

10 Mosses on rocks

11 Primary succession can be seen happening on the sidewalks.
If left alone, even NYC would return to a cement filled woodland.

12 Secondary Succession 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. Occurs more rapidly than primary succession Around 100 years

13 Secondary Succession

14 Secondary Succession

15 Secondary Succession: Mt. St. Helens
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.

16 Over time, the pioneer species makes the area habitable by other species.
Today, Mt. St. Helens in the process of secondary succession. Plants, flowers, new trees and shrubs have started to grow. If this continues, over time they will form a climax community.

17 Climax community: the final and stable community.
Climax community will continue to change in small ways, but left undisturbed, it will remain the same through time.

18 Fire and Secondary Succession
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.

19 Fire and Secondary Succession
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.


21 Old-field Succession Occurs in farmland that has been abandoned.
Grasses and weeds grow quickly, and produce many seeds that cover large areas.

22 Over time, taller plants grow in the area, shading the light and keeping the pioneer species from receiving any light. The longer roots of the taller plants deprive the pioneer species from water. The pioneer species die.

23 Taller trees begin to grow and deprive the taller plants of water and light.
Followed by slow growing trees (oaks, maples) takeover the area. After about a century, the land returns to a climax community.

24 After Humans

25 When will the animal species return to the ecosystem?
You must consider what is needed for them to be able to live in the environment. Animal species will not return until their needs can be met. What do they need? A habitat that will provide them with sufficient food, water, a hiding place, etc.

26 Summary Questions How are primary and secondary succession different?
What is a pioneer species? Give two examples of natural disturbances and two examples of human disturbances that can result in secondary succession. Grass poking through the cracks in a sidewalk is an example of succession. Is this primary or secondary succession? Explain.

27 Choose your favorite disaster – how will succession occur?
A disturbance: a forest fire a volcano a flood, dried up pond hurricane tornado abandoned ball field or tennis court coral dying for lack of water

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