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Ecological Succession – Definition, Types, Characteristics, Causes

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  • Last Updated : 19 Aug, 2022
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An environment creates and balances out through the course of biological progression. It is a course of progress in the species’ construction of a biological local area over the long run from a pioneer community that sets first in a desolate land to the climax community. Biologists have major areas of strength in understanding how communities structure and change over the long run. Truth be told, they have invested a ton of energy seeing how complex communities, similar to woods, emerge from void land or exposed rock. They study, for instance, destinations where volcanic ejections, ice sheet retreats, or fierce blazes have occurred, clearing land or uncovering rock. In concentrating on these destinations over the long run, scientists have seen steady cycles of progress in ecological communities. Generally speaking, a local area emerging in an upset region goes through a progression of movements in piece, frequently throughout numerous years. This series of changes is called ecological succession.

Ecological Succession is a series of changes in an ecological system over a time period. 

It can also describe as the sequence of species colonization of an ecosystem from vacant or infertile land. Ecological succession is an extremely essential kind of development and improvement of an advancing biological ecosystem all in all. It likewise guarantees new regions are colonized, and decayed biological systems are recolonized so the life forms can undoubtedly adjust to the consistent changes in the climate and keep on enduring great.

The slow and moderate development of living organisms in some random region concerning its changing environmental elements, and ecological succession. An expected change observes the biotic parts being an unavoidable piece of them the climate. Ecological succession targets arriving at the balance in the environmental system. This is accomplished by a community called the climax community.  To achieve this mark of harmony steady change in the number of species is noticed. The region where the community goes through a particular change is called sere. All communities around us have gone through environmental progression since their reality was distinguished. Development in this manner is an at the same time happening process alongside ecological succession.

The two main types of ecological succession. The following stages of ecological succession are discussed below:

Primary succession

Primary Succession


It begins in a vacant region, never having vegetation of any kind where no residing creature at any point existed. A few uncovered essential regions are the recently uncovered ocean bottom, molten rocks, sand ridges, newly cooled magma dregs, recently lowered regions, and so on. As there is no dirt, these stones were separated by microorganisms and disintegrated to frame the soil. This is a cycle called erosion. The soil then turns into the groundwork of vegetation. It for the most part takes a few hundred to 1,000 years for laying out a biotic local area relying on the base and the environment. These plants help various creatures and progress from the primary ecosystem to the climax community. At the point when the primary ecosystem is obliterated, secondary succession happens.

Secondary Succession

Secondary Succession


It begins in regions that in some way lost every one of the living organic entities that existed there. Since some dirt or dregs is available, progression is quicker. at the point when the essential biological system gets cleared out can happen because of woodland fire, overwhelmed lands, avalanches, seismic tremors, and so forth. Following such annihilation, the course of progression will happen in the future from the new natural circumstances. Little plants arise first, trailed by bigger plants. The tall trees block the daylight and change the structure of the creatures underneath the overhang. At last, the climax community comes right into it. It requires fifty to a hundred years to finish a meadow and hundreds to additional twofold years to foster a forest.

Cyclic Succession

This happens in a community by changing the construction or structure of the biological system on a cyclic premise is called cyclic succession. There are a few plants that stay lethargic for the majority of the year, however, arise at the same time. This can cause primary varieties in the environment.

Characteristics of Ecological Succession

The ecological succession has the following characteristics:

  • Ecological succession is a systematic process.
  • It includes changes in species structure and furthermore builds the variety of species.
  • The succession happens because of changes in the actual climate and populace of the species.
  • Ecological successions that happen are directional and occur as an element of time.
  • It works in a settled environment.
  • The number of inhabitants in decomposer parts becomes huge.
  • The progressions are measurable.
  • The straightforward food chains will be supplanted by complex food chains.

Seral Community

A seral community is a transitional phase of ecological succession advancing toward the climax community. A sere, or seral community, is depicted as the movement of an ecological community development stages from the pioneers to the climax. The seral community is subbed by the succeeding community. It comprises food webs and established food chains. It displays an extremely low level of variety. The species are less in number and the supplements are additionally less. The various kinds of series are referenced beneath:

  • Xerosere: This succession takes place in dry areas like rock lithosere, psammosere, and halosere.
  • Hydrosere: This type of succession starts in the aquatic habitat and progresses from hydric to mesic conditions.
  • Lithosere: This type of ecological succession develops on exposed rock surfaces.
  • Psammosere: This type of ecological succession starts on the sand.
  • Halosere: The plant succession that starts on salty soil and saline water.
  • Senile: This type of succession begins on a dead matter of microorganisms.
  • Eosere: This type of succession shows the progression of vegetation in an era.

Phases of Ecological Succession

This interaction includes the accompanying stages, which are as per the following:


Development of vacant region with next to no type of life. It could be caused because of a few variables like volcanic ejections, avalanches, floods, disintegration, seismic tremor, woodland fire, the spread of illness, and so forth.

Invasion or Intrusion

It is the effective foundation of animal categories in a barren region.

  • The appearance of reproductive bodies or propagules of different species and their settlement in the new or uncovered region happens via air, water, and so on, known as migration.
  • Change of laying out species with the overarching conditions is known as ecesis.
  • Then, at that point, the singular species are duplicated by reproduction and increment their numbers; this is called aggregation.

Competition and coaction

After aggregation, the number of animal groups competes with different other species for food, space, and different assets. The intraspecific and interspecific contest happens alongside collaboration with the climate. New intrusion by plants and creatures happens.


The alteration of the climate through the impact of living creatures on it is called response.


The stage at which the last or peak local area turns out to be pretty much balanced out for a more drawn-out time frame in that specific climate is known as stabilization.

Ecological Succession Causes

The reasons for environmental progression are fundamentally three sorts. These are as per the following:

  • Initial causes: These causes incorporate both biotic and climatic. It has factors like disintegration or erosion, wind, fire, catastrophic events, and so on. These cause vigorously influence the number of inhabitants in that area.
  • Ecesis or external causes: These causes are otherwise called proceeding with causes. These can change the populace to adjust to a few states of the climate. It incorporates a few elements like aggregation, contest, relocation, and so on.
  • Climatic cause: It has a few variables like the idea of the climatic state of the area, fertility of land and wealth of accessibility of minerals, and so on.

Examples of Ecological Succession

The examples of ecological succession are as follows:

  • Ecological Succession of Coral Reefs: Little coral developments colonize the stones. These polyps develop and gap to shape coral states. The state of the coral reefs draws in little fish and shellfish that are nourishment for the bigger fish. In this manner, a completely useful coral reef is framed.
  • Tropical backwoods are instances of a secondary succession in which woodlands were cleared for lumber and rural requirements. Here, the restoration occurred at different velocities, and it required quite a long while for a local area to be completely re-established.
  • Acadia National Park: This national park confronted a feared rapidly spreading fire. Reclamation of the woodland was left to Mother Nature. In the underlying years, just little plants developed on the scorched soil. Following quite a while, the backwoods showed variety in tree species. In any case, the trees before the fire were generally evergreen, while the trees that developed after the fire ended up being deciduous in nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Why Ecological Succession is important?


The importance of ecological succession is as follows:

  • It shows the method of the grouping of biotic progression. Biologists can promptly perceive the seral phase of a biotic community in space.
  • It helps in knowing data about methods to be utilized during reforestation and afforestation.
  • The information on biotic progression is utilized to forestall the development of superior in a space and control the development of at least one animal types.
  • Assurance of dams by forestalling siltation and event of biotic succession.

Question 2: What are the different types of successional communities?


There are three principal kinds of successional communities:

  • Pioneer community is the one that sets first in a fruitless or vacant region. some of them are lichens for rock, phytoplankton, and zooplanktons in lakes. They may survive in the most antagonistic climate.
  • Climax community is the last community in biotic succession, which is somewhat steady and is in close to harmony with the climate of that region called a climate community. For example, forests.
  • Transitional or seral communities are the ones that follow the pioneer community. They incorporate bryophytes, herbs, bushes in xerosere, lowered, drifting, and so on, in lakes. They contribute the greatest to the development of a steady community.

Question 3: What is sere and its types?


The entire series of communities occurring in biotic succession is called sere. A seral community is a transitional phase of ecological succession advancing toward the climax community. A sere, or seral community, is depicted as the movement of an ecological community development stages from the pioneers to the climax. It consists of simple food chains and food webs. The different types of series are mentioned below:

  1.  Xerosere 
  2.  Hydrosere
  3.  Lithosere
  4.  Psammosere
  5.  Halosere
  6.  Senile
  7.  Eosere

Question 4: Difference between primary and secondary succession?


Here is the difference between the primary and secondary successions:

In primary succession, the Occurrence happens in regions that are dormant or desolate. Examples are exposed rocks, lakes, deserts, and so on. Soil is missing toward the start of primary succession and the climate isn’t appropriate for supporting typical living things. Moderately slow and it takes approx. thousands of years or more. Primary succession is considerably harder to see than secondary succession. Whereas in secondary succession it happens in regions that were recently inhabited. Examples include natural disasters, covered deforestation, and so forth. Soil is available toward the start of secondary succession for certain life forms. Moderately quick and it take approximately fifty to two hundred years, simple to notice.

Question 5: What are the different stages in Ecological Succession?


The stages are the mechanism involved in the process of ecological succession are as follow:

  • Nudation: Development of bare or vacant areas without any form of life.
  • Invasion: Establishment of a species in a barren area.
  • Competition and coaction: Species compete with other organisms for food, space, and other resources
  • Reaction: The modification of the environment.
  • Stabilization: The final stage at which the community becomes stable.

Question 6: What is autogenic and allogenic succession?


  • Autogenic Succession: After biotic succession has started, the current vegetation is considered answerable for its own substitution by the new communities by changing the current natural condition. This progression is known as autogenic succession.
  • Allogenic Succession: In allogenic succession, the current community is supplanted by other external conditions and not by existing vegetation itself.

Question 7: Give a real incident of Ecological Succession.


The volcanic island of Surtsey is situated off the shore of Iceland. In 1963, this island was shaped because of the emissions of the spring of gushing lava. After the ejection, the ground was principally shaking. Organisms and shapes began developing on the stone. These started to separate the stone to shape soil. Then the little grasses start to flourish and begin to develop. Following more modest bushes start to develop. The little tunneling creatures moved in to upset the dirt as bigger plants developed. Following quite a long while, trees start to flourish and develop where there was just stone.

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