Species Count and Succession Assignment

Species Count and Succession Assignment

Ecological succession, the process by which the structure of a biological community evolves over time.

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Refer to this website for more information: https://www.britannica.com/science/ecological-succession



1. Find an area that you want to study that has been disturbed in the past (plowing, mowing, fire, cleared of trees etc.) and now has succession happening. Try to find a place that has at least 10 trees or is at least the size of a city lot (some examples might be; unmaintained road sides, empty lots, grassland, patch of woods, field etc.). Watch the video about succession before you pick your spot to help you.


a. Describe the area: how big is it, where it is located etc.




b. Draw a sketch of your area (like a map) make sure to include any structures (roads, buildings etc.) Include a photo if you want to.









c. What kind of a disturbance happened in this area? (plowing, forest clearing, fire, mowing, road building etc.) Hint: look for evidence of clearing, stumps, rock piles, burn marks, bare ground.



d. Estimate the amount of time that has passed since the disturbance (was it recent, a long ago etc.)



e. What types of pioneer species do you see in this area (these are usually fast-growing, hardy, small plants or grasses that produce a lot of seeds and can withstand harsh conditions). Sketch or describe them below.







f. What types of secondary (intermediate) succession species do you see in this area, taller grasses, larger bushes and shrubs, small fast-growing trees. Sketch or describe them below. Identify if possible.










g. Does your area contain any climax (mature) community species? If not, describe what a climax community would look like in this area, what types of species would you expect to see. Sketch or describe them below











2. List the other living organisms that you can see in your area (don’t forget birds, bugs etc.) be as specific as possible. Try looking them up on your phone to identify. Do there seem to be more species in the recently disturbed areas or the more mature areas?

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3. What type of habitat is in your area for wild animals to live in, hide in etc. (brush piles, rock piles, dead trees, logs etc.) Think about what would happen if the area was completely cleared.




4. Look up endangered species in Minnesota. Are there any endangered species that might live in a habitat like your area? (explain) If not, pick one Minnesota endangered species and describe why it is endangered and what its natural habitat is.










5. Invasive plant species often inhabit disturbed areas. Look up Minnesota invasive plant species in disturbed areas. The DNR website is a good resource. Are there any invasive plant species that might live in a habitat like your area? (explain where the species came from, how did it get to Minnesota, what native species does it affect). Sketch or describe what it looks like below.











6. Are there any potential sources of pollution near your area? List them and say how they could potentially pollute the area.






7. Explain the risks to your area of habitat loss due to construction, expansion, climate shift, air pollution etc.













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Thompson, J. N. (n.d.). Ecological Succession. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/ecological-succession

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