Ecological Succession – Characteristics, Types and Causes

Ecological succession term was coined by Hult (1885). Famous ecologist Clement defined Ecological Succession as “the natural process by which the same locality becomes successively colonised by different groups or communities of plants”.

Characteristics of Ecological Succession

  1. The species types and the community changes in an orderly process
  2. The physical structure of a community changes by the biological action of the biological factors grow there.
  3. At last a stable ecosystem gets established in an area. With both biotic as well as abiotic factors interacting there to establish equilibrium in that ecosystem.
  4. Then the climax community gets established there, which in turn maintain an equilibrium with the environment.

Causes of Ecological Succession

  1. Initial causes: It happens for the destruction of an existing habitat. It is two types.
    1. Climatic Factors: Ex. Soil Erosion, Soil deposition due to heavy wind, Continuous flood, Heavy rainfall, Fire, Drought, Land Slides, Oil Deposition etc.
    2. Biotic Factors: Ex. Deforestation, Over grazing, Jhum cultivation etc.
  2. Continuous Causes: It is responsible for the changes in population composition in that area. The factors responsible for population compositions are, migration for safety, migration due to urbanization, migration due to industrialization, migration for better life etc.
  3. Stabilizing Causes: Stabilization of an ecosystem happens due to the climatic condition of that area, availability of minerals, fertility of the land for agriculture as well as growth of different types of producer for a continuous flow of food and energy as discussed earlier.

Types of Ecological Succession

  1. Primary succession: It begins from the primitive substation where there was no living factor before. Ex. Volcanic eruptions, Rocky Areas etc.
  2. Secondary Succession: It begins from a previously sustained living matters, but the vegetation got damaged due to any climate factors like flood, fire, acid rain etc.
  3. Autogenic Succession: (Auto means self or same, and genic means producing / causing) The developing plant community brings a change in the condition of a particular place, which is not suitable for them, but creates or produces an environment for the growth of a different community. It is a succession driven by biotic components of an ecosystem.
  4. Allogenic Succession: (It is caused by abiotic factors) In contrast to autogenic succession, allogenic succession is an abiotic factor driven condition. The habitat of the ecosystem is changed due to volcanic eruption, climate change, comet strike, earthquake, flood, drought etc.
  5. Induced Succession: It is a man-made process, developed for the benefit of the humankind. Ex. Cultivation of Crops in a field.
  6. Autotrophic Succession: When a place is rich in inorganic content & poor in organic matter, the development of succession of plants over that area is called as autotrophic succession.
  7. Heterotrophic Succession: If a succession begins in an area which is rich in organic contents like forest litter, sewage etc, and dominated by saprophytes like fungi, mushrooms etc is called heterotrophic succession.
  8. Retrogressive Succession: Sometimes due to heavy biological or biotic interferences, the succession goes backward instead of progressing. Ex. Forest community changes to a shrub land or grassland or to a barren land due to deforestation and overgrazing.

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