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Succession is concerned with community development over time. Find out more in our general section on succession.

Salt Marsh Succession


As establishment proceeded the species present took up more space and grew better. As a result the physical conditions of the site improved, allowing new species to survive and grow. The vegetation became closed and the amount of space available for growing in became much reduced.

Plants require water, light, carbon dioxide, nutrients and space. If you've got lots of species all attempting to get all these things in one place at the same time and some of them start to run out, you have a recipe for competition. This is our next stage in succession.

It is difficult to demonstrate plant competition directly in most field situations. However we may infer that competition is occurring if species that were doing well before are replaced by other species later.

At this stage we might still be getting new species but we'd expect some species from earlier in the sequence to die out.

Pioneer species are good at surviving the unfavourable conditions that usually prevail at the start of succession. They are often short-lived species that invest a lot of their energy into fast growth and reproduction (you couldn't say this about lichens of course). The presence of pioneers results in changes that make the environment more favourable so that other species can come in and out-compete and replace them. These later species are sometimes called equilibrium species.

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