Pioneer community vs Climax community
Ecological succession is the gradual replacement of one community with another till reaching a final stable climax community over a period of time
The first set of species or community that develops in a bare area in ecological succession is the pioneer community.
Pioneer species facilitate succession.
The final steady stable self sustaining community in an ecological succession is called the climax community. Climax community is in equilibrium with physical environment also as long as the environment remains unchanged
10 Differences between Pioneer Community and Climax Community
Pioneer community
Climax community
It is the first community that appears in a bare area during ecological succession (primary community)
It is the final stable biotic community that appears in an area during ecological succession (final community)
The establishment of the pioneer community is the first step in ecological succession (first seral stage)
The emergence of the stable climax community is the final step in ecological succession (last seral stage)
Pioneer community appears on a previously uninhabited area
Climax community establishes in a previously occupied area by other seral communities
Pioneer community consists of generally small sized species
Climax community consists of species of different sizes that are well adapted to the environment
The species in the community are tolerant to extreme environments
The species in the climax community are comparatively less tolerant to extreme environments
*Pioneer species are generally ‘r-selected’ species that are fast growing, shade intolerant and short lived
Climax species are k selected species that are slow growing, shade tolerant and long lived
Pioneer species are good colonizers but poor competitors
Climax species are poor colonizers but good competitors
Pioneer species are generally with numerous small seeds capable of dormancy, well dispersed by animals or wind, low density, pale, non-durable timber
Climax species are generally with few larger seeds capable of dormancy, well dispersed by animals or wind, low density, pale, non-durable timber
Responsible for soil formation and modifies the environment favoring the colonization of other species of next seral stage
The environment has been modified and made suitable for the emergence of species of climax community by the species of previous seral stages
Pioneer community is replaced by the species of next seral communities
Climax community is a stable community where invasion of other species will not generally happen for a long period
Examples of pioneer species: Lichen in lithosere (rocks),
Pioneer community: Phytoplanktons in hydrosere
Examples: Climax species: White spruce (Picea glauca) climax species in the Northern forests of North America.
Giant sequoia tree in sequoia forests
Climax community: forest
*Exceptions: Lichens are pioneer species on rocks, but slow growing
1. Guariguata, M. R., & Ostertag, R. (2001). Neotropical secondary forest succession: changes in structural and functional characteristics. Forest ecology and management, 148(1-3), 185-206.
2. Tobin, A. J., & Dusheck, J. (2005). Asking about life. Cengage Learning.

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