During a succession, different groups of plants grow at a site over time. The diagram shows a succession from bare ground to a mature forest.
Plants that colonise bare ground are typically hardy and low-growing. In time, shrubs and small trees grow among the first plants, and a shrubland develops. Seedlings of tall forest trees germinate and grow in the shelter of the shrubs, and soon overtop them, forming a young forest. This gets taller and more complex over time. In the mature forest, individual trees die and young saplings grow up to replace them, but the forest’s composition and structure basically remain the same for centuries.
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Artwork by Gareth Railton
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