Secondary Succession

Secondary succession occurs when an established ecosystem slowly renews itself after its habitat has been damaged. Students can use the resources in this lesson to study this concept, and then take their studies outside to find examples in their own community.

Observe changes in ecosystems.

A common example of secondary succession is an abandoned farm field. After the farmer stops using the land to grow crops, it will eventually revert to its previous natural state. Read Chapter 40, Section 3, of E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth and watch Movie 40.3, Starting Over, to learn about the rules of succession and see how it happens in real life.

Life on Earth, Unit 7

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Explore an abandoned habitat.

Consult field guides, national parks services and wildlife agencies for information about indigenous plants and how they have been affected by succession in an abandoned field or development near where you live. Use Pages to write a story — or create a timeline with the RWT Timeline app — imagining what might happen to this location. Identify the species that are likely to colonise the open area, and describe how the plant communities will change over time. Do local research to find photos and information documenting what the area used to look like compared to its current state, and why.

Apply the rules of succession.

In your city or town, look for examples of current highway or construction projects that encroach on wild habitat areas. Use the SketchBook Express app to illustrate and explain how such instances are examples of habitat fragmentation and describe how the environment has changed.

In a functioning ecosystem, the process of secondary succession never really ends.

E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth

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