Ruderal species
A ruderal species is a plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 that is first to colonize disturbed lands. The disturbance may be natural (e.g., wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s or avalanches
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

), or due to human influence – constructional (e.g., road construction, building construction, or mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

), or agricultural (e.g., abandoned farming fields or abandoned irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...


Ruderal species typically dominate the disturbed area for a few years, gradually losing the competition
Competition (biology)
Competition is an interaction between organisms or species, in which the fitness of one is lowered by the presence of another. Limited supply of at least one resource used by both is required. Competition both within and between species is an important topic in ecology, especially community ecology...

 to other native species. However, in extreme disturbance circumstances, such as when the natural topsoil
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top to . It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.-Importance:...

 is covered with a foreign substance, a single-species ruderal community may become permanently established, as depicted in the image on the right. In addition, some ruderal invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 may have such a competitive advantage over the natural species that they, too, may permanently prevent a disturbed area from returning to its original state despite natural topsoil.


Features contributing to a species' success as ruderal are:
  • Massive seed production
  • Modest seedling
    Germination is the process in which a plant or fungus emerges from a seed or spore, respectively, and begins growth. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm or gymnosperm. However the growth of a sporeling from a spore, for example the...

    Plant nutrition
    'Plant Nutrition is the study of the chemical elements that are necessary for growth. In 1972, E. Epstein defined 2 criteria for an element to be essential for plant growth:# in its absence the plant is unable to complete a normal life cycle or...

  • Fast-growing roots
  • Independence of mycorrhizae

See also

  • Edge effect
    Edge effect
    The edge effect in ecology is the effect of the juxtaposition or placing side by side of contrasting environments on an ecosystem.This term is commonly used in conjunction with the boundary between natural habitats, especially forests, and disturbed or developed land. Edge effects are especially...

  • Restoration ecology
    Restoration ecology
    -Definition:Restoration ecology is the scientific study and practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action, within a short time frame...

  • Pioneer species
    Pioneer species
    Pioneer species are species which colonize previously uncolonized land, usually leading to ecological succession. They are the first organisms to start the chain of events leading to a livable biosphere or ecosystem...

  • Supertramp (ecology)
    Supertramp (ecology)
    In ecology, a supertramp species is any type of animal which follows the "supertramp" strategy of high dispersion among many different habitats, towards none of which it is particularly specialized...

  • Examples of ruderal species:
    • Conyza bonariensis
      Conyza bonariensis
      Conyza bonariensis is a species of Conyza, found throughout the tropics and subtropics as a weed; its precise native origin is unknown, but most likely Central America or South America...

      (family Asteraceae
      The Asteraceae or Compositae , is an exceedingly large and widespread family of vascular plants. The group has more than 22,750 currently accepted species, spread across 1620 genera and 12 subfamilies...

    • Dittrichia viscosa
      Dittrichia viscosa
      Dittrichia viscosa, also known as False Yellowhead, Sticky Fleabane, Woody Fleabane and Yellow Fleabane, is a flowering plant in the daisy family....

      The Asteraceae or Compositae , is an exceedingly large and widespread family of vascular plants. The group has more than 22,750 currently accepted species, spread across 1620 genera and 12 subfamilies...

    • Nicotiana glauca
      Nicotiana glauca
      Nicotiana glauca is a species of wild tobacco known by the common names tree tobacco and incorrectly also Mustard tree. Its leaves are attached to the stalk by petioles , and its leaves and stems are neither pubescent nor sticky like Nicotiana tabacum...

      Solanaceae are a family of flowering plants that include a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear...


External links

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