Randerson, Peter Department of Applied Biology, University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
- Primary succession
- Climax community
- Autogenic vs. allogenic factors
- Heterotrophic succession
- Secondary succession
- Mechanisms of species replacement
- Deterministic vs. stochastic succession
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A directional change in an ecological community. Populations of animals and plants are in a dynamic state. Through the continual turnover of individuals, a population may expand or decline depending on the success of its members in survival and reproduction. As a consequence, the species composition of communities typically does not remain static with time. Apart from the regular fluctuations in species abundance related to seasonal changes, a community may develop progressively with time through a recognizable sequence known as the sere. Pioneer populations are replaced by successive colonists along a more or less predictable path toward a relatively stable community. This process of succession results from interactions between different species, and between species and their environment, which govern the sequence and the rate with which species replace each other. The rate at which succession proceeds depends on the time scale of species' life histories as well as on the effects species may have on each other and on the environment which supports them. See also: Ecological communities; Population ecology
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