These worksheets look at how the process of succession occurs and the aftermath.

If we were to take a look at all the living things that interact and do not in a given physical area, we would have an ecological community. Over time and throughout history these living things and even the surrounding physical environment that they inhabit have been known to undergo a series of changes. The process by which that occurs is called ecological succession. Ecological succession is most often brought upon a region by natural disasters such as wildfires or huge storms, but changes in weather or living things can also slowly progress this process into a region. The is a natural development as to how living things make these changes starts with small livings things slowly inhabiting an area.

These worksheets will help students understand all the intricacies of ecological successions. Students will learn how they are predictable and have a cyclic nature. We will look at the work of several scientists that help us better understand how nature interacts and affects one another. We also look at how humans have had a hand in accelerating these nature process or turning them completely upside down.

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Print Ecological Succession Worksheets

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What is It?

The term primary succession describes the colonization of new land or bare rock for the first time. Weathering and other natural forces break down the surface of the rock enough for some very rugged plants to be able to grow.

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QUESTIONS: What is It?

Scientists now know that even stable (formerly called climax) communities continually undergo various kind of cyclic succession.

Primary Succession

Over time, weathering and other natural forces break down the surface of the rock until eventually some very hardy plants with minimal soil requirements are able to grow there.

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QUESTIONS: Primary Succession

What happens to the surface of an area once the life cycle of pioneer species begins to occur?

Secondary Succession

The exact way that any particular area becomes repopulated with organisms depends on the conditions that existed before the catastrophic event.

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Question Set: Secondary

Plants that don't have any woody stem above the ground are called: ____________.

Cyclic Succession

Cicadas remain underground for between thirteen and seventeen years at a time before emerging all at once, and their appearance can dramatically change an ecosystem.

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Question Set: Cyclic

What understanding has replaced the idea of the climax community?

Frederic Clements

The idea that an ecosystem moves through a fixed and predictable development pattern that ends with a climax community was proposed by the botanist Frederic Clements in the 1890s.

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Question Set: Frederic Clements

The ecologists that followed him built upon this idea and began to think of an ecological system as a single "superorganism" that could be compared to a single, complex organism.

What Are Ecological Communities?

The main land biomes are tropical rainforest, grasslands, desert, temperate deciduous forest, taiga (also called coniferous or boreal forest), and tundra.

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Questions: Ecological Communities

When describing and measuring ecological communities, ecologists use two important terms. What are they?

Foundation Species and Keystone Species

Foundation species often modify an environment in a way that allows it to support other organisms in the community.

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Foundation Species and Keystone Species Question Series

A keystone species is a species that has a much larger effect on community structure than the other species in the community due to its abundance.

Disturbed vs. Undisturbed Ecosystems

In the context of ecology, productivity means how quickly biomass (the total mass of organisms in a given area) is generated in an ecosystem.

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Question Set: Disturbed vs. Undisturbed

An ecological community that has been disturbed can only recover to its undisturbed state when the disturbance is no longer taking place.

Ecological Equilibrium and Types of Climax Communities

The forms of life in a climax community reflect the type of climate that exists there, and organisms that die are replaced by organisms of the same kind.

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Ecological Equilibrium Questions

Some regions are always vulnerable to some disastrous event like a wildfire. Succession after a catastrophic event that happens rapidly to reestablish shrub dominance is called a catastrophic climax.

Early and Late Successional Habitats

As these changes take place, the animal life changes too. It continues to change as the composition of vegetation turns over.

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Successional Habitats Questions

There are species of plants and animals that rely on recurring disturbances of climax communities and the resulting shrublands and juvenile forests in order to survive.