Difference Between Primary And Secondary Succession

Succession is a progressive change in an ecological community. It is progressive change series in the composition of an ecological community over time. Succession is of two main types namely, primary succession and secondary succession. the major difference between primary and secondary succession is that primary succession occurs in a land where there is no initial vegetation. On the other hand, Secondary succession occurs in a land that has primary vegetation. Primary succession can be initiated due to an external factor or biological factor. While secondary succession starts due to an external factor. In this article, you will learn about the key differences between primary and secondary succession in detail.

Difference Between Primary And Secondary Succession in Tabular Form

Primary Succession

Secondary Succession

Primary succession is a type of ecological succession that takes place in a land, that is recently formed and lacks habitable soil but then is colonized for the first time by living organisms. Secondary succession is a type of ecological succession that occurs in a land with an already established ecosystem that gets disruption due to some events like fire or hurricane and is then re-colonized by other organisms.
It can be initiated due to a biological factor. It starts due to an external factor.
The new land is usually formed due to natural events like volcano or glacier eruption that causes the lack of soil or the absence of living organisms. Secondary successions begin in a land with pre-existing soil.
Primary succession begins with the weathering of rocks to form soil to inhabit the pioneer species The early colonizers in these ecological successions are also termed ‘pioneer species’ like in primary succession. These species arise from the pre-existing groups of organisms of the community.
There is no organic matter occurs in the environment undergoing primary succession. There is an organic matter present in the environment undergoing secondary succession
The environment is unfavorable and is made favorable in primary succession as new species continue to grow. The environment in secondary succession is favorable from the beginning
Takes a long time to complete. Takes a short time to complete.
Examples: The formation of a new ecosystem after a volcano, glacier outbursts, or a nuclear explosion. Examples: Harvesting, logging, or abandonment of land or the renewal after a disease outbreak.

What is Ecological Succession?

Ecological succession is the process of evolution of the structure of the biological species. The species structure of a community in the ecological succession in an ecosystem is changed over a while. it takes usually a long time, which may range from decades, or natural destruction. E.g. after a wildfire, or even millions of years after a mass extinction. The changes in the ecosystem may cause the impact that established species make upon their environments.

Characteristics of ecological succession

  • Ecological succession is a systematic process that involves a change in the species structure.
  • The changes in the process are directional and take place as a function of time.
  • The succession occurs due to the changes in the population of species and physical environment.
  • Due to the population explosion of species, the changes occur.
  • The changes are predictable

Types of Ecological Succession

There are two major types of ecological successions i.e. primary and secondary successions.

What is Primary Succession?

The process that starts in new habitats or lifeless areas that are uninfluenced by pre-existing communities is called primary succession. It also takes place following an opening of uninhabited, infertile habitat, or it can also occur in an environment that is devoid of vegetation and usually lacking topsoil. Primary succession is one in which plants and animals first colonize a barren, lifeless habitat such as the regions devoid of soil or the areas where the soil is unable to sustain life. The first species or pioneer species build an initial biological community in a simple form. This biological community gradually becomes more complex with the arrival of new species. It evolved to contain only rocks in place of soil. The rocks are broken down by microorganisms to form soil and eroded by physical conditions. The soil that is formed by broken-down microorganisms of rocks then becomes the primary foundation of plant life and it is adapted for various animals to survive on plants.

Read Also: What is a Pioneer Community?

What is secondary Succession?

The process follows the disruption of a pre-existing community. It exists in the same ecosystem. Secondary succession is a stage of re-establishment of the ecosystem that existed earlier but was destroyed due to few natural calamities i.e. fire, flood, etc. This re-establishment also occurs due to the presence of seeds and organic matter of the biological community in soil. It is the second type of ecological succession that occurs when the primary succession gets destroyed. It is a process in which plants and animals recolonize a habitat after a major disturbance i.e. lava flow, landslide, wildfire, etc. It takes place in an ecosystem where the disturbance is not eliminated all life forms and nutrients from the environment. The climax community arrives after the end of secondary succession.


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