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(a) What is meant by the concept of climax communities in plant succession? (b) Analyse the role of human activity in plant succession.

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Section C- Ecosystems Chloe Borthwick (a) What is meant by the concept of climax communities in plant succession? Succession is the long term change in a plant community from a bare inorganic surface to a climax community. The series of changes happen over time (temporal) and space (spatial). A climax community is reached when habitat is stable, the vegetation is in equilibrium with the local environment, and in balance with the climate and the soils of the area. The plants go through the prisere, which is a chain of successive seres from a pioneer community to a climax community. Each successive sere usually has an increase in the number of species and the height of the plants. For example Studland Bay in the South West of England has a pioneer species of sea lyme grass which succeeds to the climax community of oak, which was mainly influenced by the climate. (b) Analyse the role of human activity in plant succession. ...read more.


It also leads to dangerous changes in the carbon content of the atmosphere, in the case of rain forests; deforestation contributes to the planet's biodiversity-and to its oxygen supply. In the Amazon rainforest, one mahogany tree is cut and twenty-eight are destroyed, this amounts to 50,000 trees a year in one area being destroyed. The trees are cut for farming e.g. cocoa, rice, corn and fruit. For mining, minerals such as iron, bauxite, gold and tin, this results in high pressure so the top soil collapses. Cleared land also used for cattle ranching (approx 3,000 hectares) where the soil was acidic and infertile used for vegetation. It is difficult to grow but fertilisers are unavailable due to their lack of income. If humans create fires in vegetation dominated areas it can have devastating affects. It can occur in grasslands, moorlands, forests and heaths. The climate plays a big part on how bad the fire can be. For example, if it is windy then the fires will move much more quickly and will burn faster. ...read more.


baobab in the savannas. Desertification One positive effect of human activity on plant succession is maintaining the diversity of habitats. At Studland Bay, the inland gorse and heather give way to birch and hazel trees. This climax community would take over the area if the trees were not deliberately cut to maintain the diversity of habitats. Dune slacks develop behind the sand dunes where the air is calmer, allowing for organic matter to be added. The soil increases in depth and the moisture content rises, encouraging different species to invade and then colonise the area. The growth of gorse and heather were also encouraged to manage the nesting of the rare Dartford Warbler bird. The role of human activity affects plant succession both positively and negatively, although it is more so negatively. There interferences result in pioneer communities being unable to reach there climax community where the species would be in dynamic equilibrium with the environment. It may not be there direct interference, for example it may be the clearing of land resulting in infertile soils which restricts different types of species from succeeding. ...read more.

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