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Community dynamics

Community dynamics are the changes in community structure and composition over time. Sometimes these changes are induced by environmental disturbances such as volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, fires, and climate change. Communities with a stable structure are said to be at equilibrium. Following a disturbance, the community may or may not return to the equilibrium state.

Succession describes the sequential appearance and disappearance of species in a community over time. In primary succession    , newly exposed or newly formed land is colonized by living things; in secondary succession    , part of an ecosystem is disturbed and remnants of the previous community remain.

Primary succession and pioneer species

Primary succession occurs when new land is formed or rock is exposed: for example, following the eruption of volcanoes, such as those on the Big Island of Hawaii. As lava flows into the ocean, new land is continually being formed. On the Big Island, approximately 32 acres of land is added each year. First, weathering and other natural forces break down the substrate enough for the establishment of certain hearty plants and lichens with few soil requirements, known as pioneer species    ( [link] ). These species help to further break down the mineral rich lava into soil where other, less hardy species will grow and eventually replace the pioneer species. In addition, as these early species grow and die, they add to an ever-growing layer of decomposing organic material and contribute to soil formation. Over time the area will reach an equilibrium state, with a set of organisms quite different from the pioneer species.

Photo shows a succulent plant growing in bare earth.
During primary succession in lava on Maui, Hawaii, succulent plants are the pioneer species. (credit: Forest and Kim Starr)

Secondary succession

A classic example of secondary succession occurs in oak and hickory forests cleared by wildfire ( [link] ). Wildfires will burn most vegetation and kill those animals unable to flee the area. Their nutrients, however, are returned to the ground in the form of ash. Thus, even when areas are devoid of life due to severe fires, the area will soon be ready for new life to take hold.

Before the fire, the vegetation was dominated by tall trees with access to the major plant energy resource: sunlight. Their height gave them access to sunlight while also shading the ground and other low-lying species. After the fire, though, these trees are no longer dominant. Thus, the first plants to grow back are usually annual plants followed within a few years by quickly growing and spreading grasses and other pioneer species. Due to, at least in part, changes in the environment brought on by the growth of the grasses and other species, over many years, shrubs will emerge along with small pine, oak, and hickory trees. These organisms are called intermediate species. Eventually, over 150 years, the forest will reach its equilibrium point where species composition is no longer changing and resembles the community before the fire. This equilibrium state is referred to as the climax community    , which will remain stable until the next disturbance.

The three illustrations show secondary succession of an oak and hickory forest. The first illustration shows a plot of land covered with pioneer species, including grasses and perennials. The second illustration shows the same plot of land later covered with intermediate species, including shrubs, pines, oak, and hickory. The third illustration shows the plot of land covered with a climax community of mature oak and hickory. This community remains stable until the next disturbance.
Secondary succession is shown in an oak and hickory forest after a forest fire.

Section summary

Communities include all the different species living in a given area. The variety of these species is called species richness. Many organisms have developed defenses against predation and herbivory, including mechanical defenses, warning coloration, and mimicry, as a result of evolution and the interaction with other members of the community. Two species cannot exist in the same habitat competing directly for the same resources. Species may form symbiotic relationships such as commensalism or mutualism. Community structure is described by its foundation and keystone species. Communities respond to environmental disturbances by succession (the predictable appearance of different types of plant species) until a stable community structure is established.

Questions & Answers

how can a human being die by drinking too much of water
Olaleke Reply
Scientific name of a dog in canis familiarise?
Jaymez Reply
what's biology?
Jaymez
Biology is the study of living organism and their interaction with one another and their environment
Sharon
an other questions please
Elsabet
what is biosphere.
Chinyi
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Chinyi
And what are emphatic factors.
Chinyi
@Chinyi Bahiyah -pollen grains are produced in the anther of plants. the anther is one part of the male part of the plant the other being filament and they together form the stamen. hoped that helped :) !!
xjuicy_editzz
what is science?
Benedict Reply
Science is the method of acquiring skills and knowledge through experimentation and observation in the World Series
Richmond
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Bitwell
is the study that deals with the interaction between living things and their environment
Alexander
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Liteboho
the main function is to uptake of water and nutrients from the rhizosphere.
Benedict
State the genius to where the dog belong.
Jaymez
where does meiosis occur in male plant reproductive organ
Gimai Reply
plant cell is plasmolysed as a result of the
Favour Reply
of the plant losing water
Esnart
"Head of a pin" means what?
Theresah Reply
types of genotype and types of blood group
Adebusuyi Reply
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Musa Reply
is the study of cell and structure of an organism
Atem
is the study of characteristics,life processes and phenomana of living organism
Atem
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Dimpho Reply
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Jessica Reply
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Jessica Reply
because they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 70mph
Abu
Thanks
Jessica
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Reuben Reply
what is an enzymes
Reuben
a cell is a biological catalyst that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction without itself been changed
Israel
a cell is smallest unit of life
Francis
an Enzyme helps speed up a chemical reaction
Francis
is the basic structural and functional unit of all organism
Atem
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Mutebi Reply
Is the removal of amino radical from amino acid or any other amino compound.
Esnart
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Allen Reply
metabolism is the the combination of all the reaction that occur within your body
xjuicy_editzz
These reaction can be either anabolic (which is the building up of molecules) or can be catabolism (breaking of molecules) but these processes occur simultaneously to maintain homeostasis(internal body environment) within the body.
xjuicy_editzz
hope that helps :D !!
xjuicy_editzz
list 20 element in their order
Dor Reply
hydrogen helium lithium beryllium boron carbon nitrogen oxygen fluorine neon sodium Magnesium aluminium silicon phosphorus sulfur chlorine Aaron potassium calcium -Also if anyone is having trouble remembering the elements I recommend watching "The Periodic Table of elements song" :)
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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