A seral community is an intermediate stage found in ecological succession
Ecological succession, is the phenomenon or process by which a community progressively transforms itself until a stable community is formed. It is a fundamental concept in ecology, and refers to more or less predictable and orderly changes in the composition or structure of an ecological community...
in an ecosystem advancing towards its climax community
In ecology, a climax community, or climatic climax community, is a biological community of plants and animals which, through the process of ecological succession — the development of vegetation in an area over time — has reached a steady state. This equilibrium occurs because the climax community...
. In many cases more than one seral stage evolves until climax conditions are attained. A prisere is a collection of seres making up the development of an area from non-vegetated surfaces to a climax community.
A seral community is the name given to each group of plants within the succession. A primary succession
Primary succession is one of two types of biological and ecological succession of plant life, occurring in an environment in which new substrate devoid of vegetation and usually lacking soil, such as a lava flow or area left from retreated glacier, is deposited...
describes those plant communities that occupy a site that has not previously been vegetated. These can also be described as the pioneer community
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...
. Computer modeling is sometimes used to evaluate likely succession stages in a seral community.
Depending on the substratum and climate, a seral community can be one of the following:
A hydrosere is a plant succession which occurs in a freshwater lake. In time, an area of open freshwater will naturally dry out, ultimately becoming woodland. During this change, a range of different landtypes such as swamp and marsh will succeed each other....
: Community in water
A lithosere is a plant succession that begins life on a newly exposed rock surface, such as one left bare as a result of glacial retreat, tectonic uplift as in the formation of a raised beach, or volcanic eruptions...
: Community on rock
A psammosere is a seral community, an ecological succession that began life on newly exposed coastal sand. Most common psammoseres are sand dune systems....
: Community on sand
Xerosere is a plant succession which is limited by water availability. It includes the different stages in a xerarch succession. Xerarch succession of ecological communities originated in extremely dry situation such as sand deserts, sand dunes, salt deserts, rock deserts etc...
: Community in dry area
Halosere is an ecological term which describes succession in a saline environment. An example of a halosere would be a salt marsh.In a river estuary, large amounts of silt are deposited by the ebbing tides and inflowing rivers....
: Community in saline body (e.g. a marsh)
ExamplesAn example of seral communities in secondary succession
Secondary succession is one of the two types of ecological succession of plant life. As opposed to the first, primary succession, secondary succession is a process started by an event that reduces an already established ecosystem Secondary succession is one of the two types of ecological...
is a recently logged coniferous forest. During the first two years, grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...
A heath or heathland is a dwarf-shrub habitat found on mainly low quality acidic soils, characterised by open, low growing woody vegetation, often dominated by plants of the Ericaceae. There are some clear differences between heath and moorland...
s and herbaceous
A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground...
plants such as fireweed
Epilobium angustifolium, commonly known as Fireweed , Great Willow-herb , or Rosebay Willowherb , is a perennial herbaceous plant in the willowherb family Onagraceae...
will be abundant. After a few more years shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...
s will start to appear; and about six to eight years after clearing, the area is likely to be crowded with young birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...
es. Each of these stages can be referred to as a seral community.
In the far western part of North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...
plant communities are typically controlled by periodic natural wildfires. In the southern portion of the Coast Ranges and in Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...
Heteromeles arbutifolia , and commonly known as Toyon, is a common perennial shrub native to California down to Baja California....
is often a locally dominant taxon in seral communities transitional between coastal sage scrub
Coastal sage scrub
Coastal sage scrub is a low scrubland plant community found in the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion of coastal California and northern Baja California. It is characterized by low-growing aromatic, and drought-deciduous shrubs adapted to the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of the...
- Allogenic successionAllogenic successionIn ecology, allogenic succession is succession driven by the abiotic components of an ecosystem. In contrast, autogenic succession is driven by the biotic components of the ecosystem. An allogenic succession can be brought about in a number of ways which can include:*Volcanic eruptions*Grazing...
- Autogenic successionAutogenic successionIn ecology, autogenic succession is succession driven by the biotic components of an ecosystem. In contrast, allogenic succession is driven by the abiotic components of the ecosystem.- How it occurs :...
- Frederic ClementsFrederic ClementsFrederic Edward Clements was an American plant ecologist and pioneer in the study of vegetation succession.-Biography:...