Ecological succession is a process in which diverse biological communities develop over time. The period in which we observe the change happening can be just a few decades or even millions of years. Ecological succession is the reason why different types of ecosystems either disappear, or they are born new within a specific environment.
Primary And Secondary Succession
This stability of ecological succession depends on the progression that is involved in the process. There are two different types of succession we can differentiate: primary and secondary. The crucial distinction between the two lies in their starting points. Primary succession happens when a newly formed area is populated by living beings for the very first time. Secondary succession is a scenario in which the area is re-populated after some type of disturbance struck it.
Technically speaking, we can say that the primary succession appears in areas that had no life before, but are now able to host it, because something new has happened to a particular terrain: a sudden lava burst, or rocks that become a better place to live once the glaciers slide off them. In secondary succession, the area itself had the ability to host life, but due to different types of natural or man-caused disturbances, it was not so hospitable.
Why Is Biodiversity So Important?
Why is this knowledge so crucial for humankind? First of all, we are able to have an indication of what ecosystems are stable and what is suffering from disturbances that we cause. This is of great importance to the way we perceive evolution, and it helps us realize the importance of biodiversity.
We also became aware of how a combination of both ecological succession types needs to be present if we want to have a stable environment to live in. From an ecological standpoint, the crops we produce are always young communities, because there is a cycle we follow to ensure we get the most output. Vast forests, on the other hand, are older, and because of it - more diverse communities.
One thing to note is that all people on this planet depend on having early successional stages as their primary source of food. But, what we do here largely depends on the stability of the ecosystem as a whole. Balance is the keyword here, and we can not survive only on young types of plant communities.
There needs to be a bigger, more diverse organic structure that would be able to act as a buffer to the environment on a larger scale. This is where we can genuinely understand ongoing issues that happen because of, e.g., deforestation. Yes, we need more and more wood to create more products we can use, but the effects of such destructive practices will always cause problems with balance that is much needed in the environment.