Xerosere is a plant succession that is limited by water availability. It includes the different stages in a xerarch succession. Xerarch succession of ecological communities originated in extremely dry situation such as sand deserts, sand dunes, salt deserts, rock deserts etc. A xerosere may include lithoseres (on rock) and psammoseres (on sand).[1]


Bare rocks

Bare rocks are produced when glaciers recede or volcanoes erupt. Erosion of these rocks is brought by rain water and wind loaded with soil particles. The rain water combines with atmospheric carbon dioxide that corrodes the surface of the rocks and produce crevices. Water enters these crevices, freezes and expands to separate boulders. These boulders move down under the influence of gravity and wear particles from the rocks. Also when the wind loaded with soil particles strikes against the rocks, it removes soil particles. All these processes lead to formation of a little soil at the surface of these bare rocks. Animals such as spiders which can hide between boulders or stones invade these rocks. These animals live by feeding on insects which have been blown in or flown in. Algal and fungal spores reach these rocks by air from the surrounding areas. These spores grow and form symbiotic association, the lichen, which act as pioneer species of bare rocks. The process of succession starts when autotrophic organisms start living in the rocks.

Foliose and fruticose lichen stage

Foliose lichens have leaf-like thalli, while the fruticose lichens are like small bushes. They are attached to the substratum at one point only, therefore, do not cover the soil completely. They can absorb and retain more water and are able to accumulate more dust particles. Their dead remains are decomposed to humus which mixes with soil particles and help building substratum and improving soil moisture contents further. The shallow depressions in the rocks and crevices become filled with soil and topsoil layer increases further. These autogenic changes favor growth and establishment of mosses.

Moss stage

The spores of xerophytic mosses, such as Polytrichum, Tortula, and Grimmia, are brought to the rock where they succeed lichens. Their rhizoids penetrate soil among the crevices, secrete acids and corrode the rocks. The bodies of mosses are rich in organic and inorganic compounds. When these die they add these compounds to the soil, increasing the fertility of the soil. As mosses develop in patches they catch soil particles from the air and help increase the amount of substratum. The changing environment leads to migration of lichens and helps invasion of herbaceous vegetation that can out-compete mosses.

Herb stage

Encroaching herbs and shrubs

Herbaceous weeds, mostly annuals such as asters, evening primroses, and milk weeds, invade the rock. Their roots penetrate deep down, secrete acids and enhance the process of weathering. Leaf litter and death of herbs add humus to the soil. Shading of soil results in decrease in evaporation and there is a slight increase in temperature. As a result, the xeric conditions begin to change and biennial and perennial herbs and xeric grasses such as Aristida, Festuca, and Poa, begin to inhabit. These climatic conditions favor growth of bacterial and fungal populations, resulting in increase in decomposition activities.

Shrub stage

The herb and grass mixture is invaded by shrub species, such as Rhus and Physocarpus. Early invasion of shrub is slow, but once a few bushes have become established, birds invade the area and help disperse scrub seeds. This results in dense scrub growth shading the soil and making conditions unfavorable for the growth of herbs, which then begin to migrate. The soil formation continues and its moisture content increases.

Tree stage

Change in environment favors colonization of tree species. The tree saplings begin to grow among the scrubs and establish themselves. The kind of tree species inhabiting the area depends upon the nature of the soil. In poorly drained soils oaks establish themselves. The trees form canopy and shade the area. Shade-loving scrubs continue to grow as secondary vegetation. Leaf litter and decaying roots weather the soil further and add humus to it making the habitat more favorable for growth to trees. Mosses and ferns make their appearance and fungi population grows abundantly.

Climax stage

The succession culminates in a climax community, the forest. Many intermediate tree stages develop prior to establishment of a climax community. The forest type depends upon climatic conditions. The climax forest may be:

Oak-hickory climax forest
In dry habitat oaks and hickories are climax vegetation. There is only one tree stage and forests are characterized by presence of scrubs, herbs, ferns, and mosses.
Beech-hemlock climax forest
These climax forests develop in mesic climates. The dominant vegetation is beech and hemlock. There are many intermediate tree stages. The other vegetation types include herbs, ferns, and mosses.
Beech-maple climax forest
These climax forests develop in mesic climates in the Northeastern United States. The dominant vegetation is American beech and sugar maple.
Spruce-alpine fir climax forest
At high altitudes in Rocky Mountains the climax forest is dominated by spruces and alpine firs.

See also


  1. ^ Cooper, W.S. (January 1, 1913). The climax forest of Isle Royale, Lake Superior, and its development. Bot. gazette.
Abiotic component

In biology and ecology, abiotic components or abiotic factors are non-living chemical and physical parts of the environment that affect living organisms and the functioning of ecosystems. Abiotic factors and the phenomena associated with them underpin all biology.

Abiotic components include physical conditions and non-living resources that affect living organisms in terms of growth, maintenance, and reproduction. Resources are distinguished as substances or objects in the environment required by one organism and consumed or otherwise made unavailable for use by other organisms.

Component degradation of a substance occurs by chemical or physical processes, e.g. hydrolysis. All non-living components of an ecosystem, such as atmospheric conditions and water resources, are called abiotic components.


Bacterivores are free-living, generally heterotrophic organisms, exclusively microscopic, which obtain energy and nutrients primarily or entirely from the consumption of bacteria. Many species of amoeba are bacterivores, as well as other types of protozoans. Commonly, all species of bacteria will be prey, but spores of some species, such as Clostridium perfringens, will never be prey, because of their cellular attributes.


A copiotroph is an organism found in environments rich in nutrients, particularly carbon. They are the opposite to oligotrophs, which survive in much lower carbon concentrations.

Copiotrophic organisms tend to grow in high organic substrate conditions. For example, copiotrophic organisms grow in Sewage lagoons. They grow in organic substrate conditions up to 100x higher than oligotrophs.


Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out the natural process of decomposition. Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it. Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.

Dominance (ecology)

Ecological dominance is the degree to which a taxon is more numerous than its competitors in an ecological community, or makes up more of the biomass.

Most ecological communities are defined by their dominant species.

In many examples of wet woodland in western Europe, the dominant tree is alder (Alnus glutinosa).

In temperate bogs, the dominant vegetation is usually species of Sphagnum moss.

Tidal swamps in the tropics are usually dominated by species of mangrove (Rhizophoraceae)

Some sea floor communities are dominated by brittle stars.

Exposed rocky shorelines are dominated by sessile organisms such as barnacles and limpets.

Ecological threshold

Ecological threshold is the point at which a relatively small change or disturbance in external conditions causes a rapid change in an ecosystem. When an ecological threshold has been passed, the ecosystem may no longer be able to return to its state by means of its inherent resilience . Crossing an ecological threshold often leads to rapid change of ecosystem health. Ecological threshold represent a non-linearity of the responses in ecological or biological systems to pressures caused by human activities or natural processes.Critical load, tipping point and regime shift are examples of other closely related terms.

Energy Systems Language

The Energy Systems Language, also referred to as Energese, Energy Circuit Language, or Generic Systems Symbols, was developed by the ecologist Howard T. Odum and colleagues in the 1950s during studies of the tropical forests funded by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. They are used to compose energy flow diagrams in the field of systems ecology.

Feeding frenzy

In ecology, a feeding frenzy occurs when predators are overwhelmed by the amount of prey available. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks, such as the lemon shark, to enter into a feeding frenzy. This can cause the sharks to go wild, biting anything that moves, including each other or anything else within biting range. Another functional explanation for feeding frenzy is competition amongst predators. This term is most often used when referring to sharks or piranhas. It has also been used as a term within journalism.


A lithoautotroph or chemolithoautotroph is a microbe which derives energy from reduced compounds of mineral origin. Lithoautotrophs are a type of lithotrophs with autotrophic metabolic pathways. Lithoautotrophs are exclusively microbes; macrofauna do not possess the capability to use mineral sources of energy. Most lithoautotrophs belong to the domain Bacteria, while some belong to the domain Archaea. For lithoautotrophic bacteria, only inorganic molecules can be used as energy sources. The term "Lithotroph" is from Greek lithos (λίθος) meaning "rock" and trōphos (τροφοσ) meaning "consumer"; literally, it may be read "eaters of rock". Many lithoautotrophs are extremophiles, but this is not universally so.

Lithoautotrophs are extremely specific in using their energy source. Thus, despite the diversity in using inorganic molecules in order to obtain energy that lithoautotrophs exhibit as a group, one particular lithoautotroph would use only one type of inorganic molecule to get its energy.

Mesotrophic soil

Mesotrophic soils are soils with a moderate inherent fertility. An indicator of soil fertility is its base status, which is expressed as a ratio relating the major nutrient cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium) found there to the soil's clay percentage. This is commonly expressed in hundredths of a mole of cations per kilogram of clay, i.e. cmol (+) kg−1 clay.


A mycotroph is a plant that gets all or part of its carbon, water, or nutrient supply through symbiotic association with fungi. The term can refer to plants that engage in either of two distinct symbioses with fungi:

Many mycotrophs have a mutualistic association with fungi in any of several forms of mycorrhiza. The majority of plant species are mycotrophic in this sense. Examples include Burmanniaceae.

Some mycotrophs are parasitic upon fungi in an association known as myco-heterotrophy.


An organotroph is an organism that obtains hydrogen or electrons from organic substrates. This term is used in microbiology to classify and describe organisms based on how they obtain electrons for their respiration processes. Some organotrophs such as animals and many bacteria, are also heterotrophs. Organotrophs can be either anaerobic or aerobic.

Antonym: Lithotroph, Adjective: Organotrophic.


Overpopulation occurs when a species' population exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. It can result from an increase in births (fertility rate), a decline in the mortality rate, an increase in immigration, or an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. When overpopulation occurs, individuals limit available resources to survive.

The change in number of individuals per unit area in a given locality is an important variable that has a significant impact on the entire ecosystem.


A planktivore is an aquatic organism that feeds on planktonic food, including zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Population cycle

A population cycle in zoology is a phenomenon where populations rise and fall over a predictable period of time. There are some species where population numbers have reasonably predictable patterns of change although the full reasons for population cycles is one of the major unsolved ecological problems. There are a number of factors which influence population change such as availability of food, predators, diseases and climate.

Recruitment (biology)

In biology, especially marine biology, recruitment occurs when a juvenile organism joins a population, whether by birth or immigration, usually at a stage whereby the organisms are settled and able to be detected by an observer.There are two types of recruitment: closed and open.In the study of fisheries, recruitment is "the number of fish surviving to enter the fishery or to some life history stage such as settlement or maturity".

Relative abundance distribution

In the field of ecology, the relative abundance distribution (RAD) or species abundance distribution describes the relationship between the number of species observed in a field study as a function of their observed abundance. The graphs obtained in this manner are typically fitted to a Zipf–Mandelbrot law, the exponent of which serves as an index of biodiversity in the ecosystem under study.

Seral community

A seral community (or sere) is an intermediate stage found in ecological succession in an ecosystem advancing towards its climax community. In many cases more than one seral stage evolves until climax conditions are attained. A prisere is a collection of seres making up the development of an area from non-vegetated surfaces to a climax community.

A seral community is the name given to each group of plants within the succession. A primary succession describes those plant communities that occupy a site that has not previously been vegetated. These can also be described as the pioneer community. Computer modeling is sometimes used to evaluate likely succession stages in a seral community.Depending on the substratum and climate, a seral community can be one of the following:


Community in water


Community on rock


Community on sand


Community in dry area


Community in saline body (e.g. a marsh)

Species homogeneity

In ecology, species homogeneity is a lack of biodiversity. Species richness is the fundamental unit in which to assess the homogeneity of an environment. Therefore, any reduction in species richness, especially endemic species, could be argued as advocating the production of a homogenous environment.

Food webs
Example webs
Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components

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