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Succession

Climax—the End Point Of Succession

The climax of succession is a relatively stable community that is in equilibrium with environmental conditions. The climax condition is characterized by slow rates of change in an old-growth community, compared with more dynamic, earlier stages of succession. The climax stage is dominated by species that are highly tolerant of the biological stresses associated with competition, because access to resources is almost completely allocated among the dominant organisms of the climax community. However, it is important to understand that the climax community is not static, because of the dynamics of within-community microsuccession, associated, for example, with gaps in a forest canopy caused by the death of individual trees. Moreover, if events of stand-level disturbance occur relatively frequently, the climax or old-growth condition will not be achieved.

Resources

Books

Begon, M., J. L. Harper, and C. R. Townsend. Ecology. Individuals, Populations and Communities. 2nd ed. London: Blackwell Sci. Pub., 1990.

Freedman, B. Environmental Ecology. 2nd ed. San Diego: Academic Press, 1995.


Bill Freedman

KEY TERMS

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Canopy closure

—A point in succession where the sky is obscured by tree foliage, when viewed upward from the ground surface.

Chronosequence

—A successional series of stands or soils of different age, originating from a similar type of disturbance.

Competition

—An interaction between organisms of the same or different species associated with their need for a shared resource that is present in a supply that is smaller than the potential, biological demand.

Cyclic succession

—A succession that occurs repeatedly on the landscape, as a result of a disturbance that occurs at regular intervals.

Ruderal

—Refers to plants that occur on recently disturbed sites, but only until the intensification of competition related stresses associated with succession eliminates them from the community.

Sere

—A successional sequence of communities, occurring under a particular circumstance of types of disturbance, vegetation, and site conditions.

Successional trajectory

—The likely sequence of plant and animal communities that is predicted to occur on a site at various times after a particular type of disturbance.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Stomium to SwiftsSuccession - Disturbance, Stress, And Succession, Primary Succession, Secondary Succession, Mechanisms Of Succession, Climax—the End Point Of Succession