Succession refers to the colonization of plant communities following a disturbance such as flooding, fire or pollution. Once the stress has been removed, natural processes allow an ecosystem to become reestablished.
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Light requirements differ for many plants. During succession, light can influence which plants can most readily colonize an area following a disturbance.
The type of soil can dictate which plants are able to become established. Clay soils can hold more nutrients, and sand soils do not hold as much water.
Water is essential to all forms of life; however, the required amount varies among species. Water quality and quantity can play a strong role in promoting or inhibiting species colonization.
Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are often limited in successional areas. Species with lower nutrient requirements have a greater chance of successfully maintaining a population.
Ecological succession is a slow process, relying on soil formation and vegetation communities. The amount of time required to reach a stable ecosystem is related to the size and intensity of the most recent disturbance.