Above and right: Grasses are abundant and spread quickly with the many seeds produced each year. Photos by Maya Walters.
The pioneer plants are the first step in changing
a disturbed area back into a forest. Gradually they are replaced by larger shrubs and trees that take longer to grow -- the process known
as ecological succession. The patterns of succession are relatively predictable in most areas. Grasses always move in first, followed by
a series of vegetation which eventually leads to the "climax forest". Any particular region has its own set of climax species, which are the
plants that are best adapted for the area and will persist after succession has finished, until another disturbance clears the area.
[plants] [seeds] [threats to forests]
view the condensed version of the ecological succession article for faster printing/reading
return to the forests through time article