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Ecological Succession -The Concept of Climax

Classs 8
May 22, 2023


The process by which the mix of species and environment in a given area changes over time is known as ecological succession. These communities gradually replace one another until a “climax community,” like a mature forest, is reached.

Climax Community:

An ecological community where plant or animal populations are stable and coexist harmoniously with one another and their surroundings.

A climax community is the last stage of succession, and it remains basically intact until a natural disaster or human intervention destroys it.

Climax community

The Climax Community has a Unique Set of Characters:

  • They can withstand a lot of environmental stress. But they aren’t easy to swallow.
  • They follow a “middle path,” meaning they live in moderate, mesic conditions.
  • They have a lot of species diversity, and energy is transferred through complicated food webs rather than simple food chains.
  • The community contains a great number of organisms, each of which has its own niche.
  • Organisms in the climax stage are replaced by organisms that are similar to them. As a result, the balance of species is maintained.
  • It serves as a gauge for the local climate. The life or growth types reveal the climatic type.


Types of Climax:

Climatic climax: A climatic climax exists when there is only one climax, and the location’s climate influences the climax community’s development—for instance, the growth of a Maple-beech climax community in moist soil.

The climatic climax is a theoretical phenomenon that occurs when the physical conditions of the substrate are not so extreme that the impacts of the prevalent regional climate are modified.

Maple beech forest

Edaphic Climax: When a location has many climax communities, each of which is influenced by local substrate circumstances such as soil moisture, soil nutrients, terrain, slope exposure, fire, and animal activity, the term “edaphic climax” is used.

An edaphic climax occurs when topography, soil, water, fire, or other disturbances prevent the development of a climatic peak.

Soil erosion

Catastrophic Climax:

Climax vegetation is vulnerable to catastrophic occurrences, such as wildfire. Chaparral vegetation, for example, is the ultimate vegetation in California.

The mature vegetation and decomposers are destroyed by wildfire. Until the shrub dominance is re-established, herbaceous vegetation develops quickly. This is referred to as a “catastrophic climax.”

Chaparral vegetation

Disclimax (disturbance climax) or Anthropogenic Subclimax:

When a man or his domestic animals maintain a stable community that is not the climatic or edaphic climax for the particular place, it is referred to as disclimax (disturbance climax) or anthropogenic sub climax (man-generated).


Overgrazing by livestock, for example, could result in a desert community of bushes and cacti where the local climate would allow grassland to thrive.

Over grazing land

Sub-climax: It refers to the long period of time immediately preceding the dramatic climax.

The Aspen trees, black spruce, and jack pine trees in the image depict the Subclimax stage.

Later, taller trees like white spruce, balsam fir, and paper birch have stable growth.

Aspen trees, black spruce, and jack pine trees represent sub climax

Pre-Climax and Post-Climax:

Under comparable climatic conditions, different climax communities emerge in some places.

Preclimax describes a society with life forms that are lower than those found in the projected climatic climax. In contrast, post-climax describes one with higher life forms than those in the expected climatic climax.

Preclimax strips form in less moist and hotter locations than the surrounding climate, whereas postclimax strands form in more moist and colder areas.

Post climax

There are three theories by scientists about the climax community

1. Monoclimax community:

  • Federic Clements created the monoclimax (or climatic climax) theory.
  • According to the mono climax theory of succession, each region has a single climax community toward which all other assemblies are progressing.
  • The area climate determines the climax.
  • Differences in topography, soil parent material, biotic component, and other factors are overcome through succession and environmental modification processes.
  • A uniform plant community would cover the entire area.
  • Subordinate communities are the communities that exist in that area in addition to the climax community.
  • Pro-climax, post-climax, pre-climax, sub-climax, and disclimax are subordinate communities.
Frederic Clements

Theory of Polyclimax:

Tansley (1939) proposed this theory, which was later backed up by Daubenmire (1966). According to the hypothesis, a region’s climax vegetation comprises a mosaic of vegetation climaxes influenced by soil moisture, soil nutrients, terrain, slope exposure, fire, and animal activity.

According to the poly climax theory, many forms of vegetation known as climax communities can be found in a particular location, each of which is influenced by factors other than the local climatic conditions. So, depending on the nature of the element in stabilization, the climax stages may be labeled topographic climax, biotic climax, edaphic climax, fire climax, and so on.

Arthur Tansley

The climax pattern theory:

The climax pattern theory, developed by R.H. Whittaker (1953), is a version of the poly climax idea.

A natural community is adapted to the entire pattern of environmental factors in which it exists, according to Whittaker (1953); the significant factors are the genetic structure of each species, climate, site, soil, biotic factors (animal activity), fire, and wind, availability of plant and animal species, and dispersal chances.

According to this hypothesis, Climax communities are patterns of populations that fluctuate depending on the overall environment.

As a result, there is no fixed number of climax communities, and no one element affects a climax community’s structure and stability.

R.H. Whittaker
Concept of Climax


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