Ecological succession is the steady and gradual change in a species of a given area with respect to the changing environment. It is a predictable change and is an inevitable process of nature as all the biotic components have to keep up with the changes in the environment. However, the ultimate aim of this process is to reach equilibrium in the ecosystem. The community that achieves this aim is called a climax community. In an attempt to reach this equilibrium, some species increase in number while some other decreases.
In an area, the sequence of communities that undergo changes is called sere. Thus, each community that changes is called a seral stage or seral community.
All the communities that we observe today around us have undergone succession over the period of time since their existence. Thus, we can say that evolution is a process that has taken place simultaneously along with that of ecological succession. Also, the initiation of life on earth can be considered to be a result of this succession process.
If we consider an area where life starts from scratch by the process of succession, it is known as primary succession. However, if life starts at a place after the area has lost all the life forms existing there, the process is called secondary succession. It is obvious that primary succession is a rather slow process as life has to start from nothing whereas secondary succession is faster because it starts at a place which had already supported life before. Moreover, the first species that comes into existence during primary succession is known as pioneer species.
There are two types of ecological succession seen in plants. They are as follows:
- Hydrarch succession – This kind of succession takes place in areas where the water content is very high as a result the plants grow in the availability of too much of water. Thus, the plants have a tendency to develop so as to minimize the water usage. Thus we can state that the plants replace from hydric to the mesic condition.
- Xerarch succession – This succession mainly occurs in the areas where there is a scarcity of water, as a result, plants develop so as to conserve water. Thus, the plants change from xeric to the mesic condition.
Henceforth, both the plant successions move towards attaining mesic conditions.
We have thus discussed the types of successions in the ecology in brief. For further detailed explanation, visit Byju’s.