Vegetation Succession:

Vegetation Succession:

Higher Geography Biosphere Vegetation Succession: Sand Dunes A PowerPoint resource to accompany the posters available at: http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/soilposters/education_vegetation_6v2.pdf http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/soilposters/education_vegetation_7v2.pdf A definition of vegetation succession: The evolution of plant communities at a site over time- from pioneer species to climax vegetation

At each stage of the succession the plant community alters the soil and microclimate, allowing the establishment of another group of species One community of plants is therefore replaced by another as the succession develops Eventually a climax community is reached where the vegetation is in a state of equilibrium with the environment and there is no further influx of new species Psammosere: A vegetation succession on sand dunes In Scotland there are 5000 ha of partly vegetated sand

500+ vegetation types grow there Dune belts illustrate well the development of vegetation from pioneer species to climax vegetation The plants which grow there have to adapt to an environment which is : dry salty mobile lacking in nutrients The development of a sand dune system requires:

A plentiful supply of sand Strong winds to transport sand particles through saltation An obstacle to trap the sand e.g. a plant Plants are therefore central to the formation, growth and character of sand dunes Psammoseres: some definitions Pioneer stage: Seeds are blown in by the wind or washed in by the sea

The rooting conditions are poor due to drought, strong winds, salty seawater immersion and alkaline conditions created by sea shells The wind moves sand in the dunes and this allows rainwater to soak through rapidly Psammoseres: some definitions Building stage: Plants trap sand and grow with it, binding the sand together with their roots The humus created by decaying pioneer plants

creates more fertile growing conditions, and the soil becomes less alkaline as pioneer plants grow and trap rainwater Less hardy plants can now grow and start to shade out the pioneers As plants colonise the dunes, the sand disappears and the dunes change colour - from yellow to grey Psammoseres: some definitions Climax stage: Taller plants (such as trees) and more

complex plant species (like moorland heathers) can now grow Plants from earlier stages die out because of competition for light and water When the water table reaches, or nearly reaches the surface, dune slacks can occur Plants which are specially adapted to be water-tolerant grow here Sand dune systems develop seawards over time New dunes develop on the foreshore and here the psammosere is in its

pioneer stage Landwards of this, on the older, more sheltered dunes, the psammosere is in its building stage Furthest inland, on the oldest dunes, the psammosere will reach its climax stage A sand dune system may take hundreds of years to develop but the process can be seen within a few hundred metres of the shoreline An aerial view of a sand dune system

youngest dunes oldest dunes A transect across a sand dune system X Reveals variations in relief and vegetation ..

Y A transect across a sand dune system X Y A transect across a sand dune system The transect above has hidden hotspots. Move your mouse over the diagram and these will be revealed. Progress across the transect using these hot spots.

You can return to this diagram at any time by using the return button You can advance quickly from one slide to the next by using this button You can go from this slide to the revision materials by using this button Embryo and Fore Dunes: the environment Click on photo to reveal annotations on-shore winds high water mark

poor water retention sand builds up against pioneer plants seaweed deposits humus transient dunes

pH 7 %OM 0.1 sand alkaline Embryo and Fore Dunes: the plants The plants which grow here have adaptations which allow them to grow in a difficult environment : waxy leaves to retain moisture and withstand winds

prostrate (low) habit to avoid strong winds deep tap roots to obtain available moisture Sandwort Frosted orache high salt tolerance Saltwort

Sea rocket Sea couch Yellow Dunes: the environment Click on photo to reveal annotations above the level of high tides reduced

wind speeds pH 6.5 %OM 0.23 Soil slightly less alkaline and more water retentive Some humus

forming Surface continually blown away and replenished with fresh sand Yellow Dunes: the plants The dominant plant species is Marram grass: Salt tolerant Thrives on being buried by sand

Inrolled leaves to reduce moisture loss Long tap roots Underground rhizomes stabilise the sand Other plants such as Ragwort, Red fescue and Sand sedge begin to appear Grey Dunes: the environment Click on photo to reveal annotations sheltered by higher,

seaward dunes lower pH little mobile sand sand no longer accumulating pH 5 - 6 %OM 1.0 higher humus

content a more closed vegetation community in which marram grass is no longer able to compete Grey Dunes: the plants higher species diversity mainly perennials marram becomes more sparse

surface lichens give grey appearance Older grey dunes may have extensive covering of lichens and heather Dune Slacks: the environment Click on photo to reveal annotations occur in low lying hollows between dune ridges

soil acidic pH 4 - 5 %OM 8.5 water table high especially in winter relief intersects the water table

Dune Slacks: the plants The community which develops here comprises moistureloving plants commonly found in many fresh water wetland areas e.g. Flag iris rushes Phragmites reeds Bog cotton Dune Heath/Woodland: the environment

Click on photo to reveal annotations well sheltered from winds maritime influence is minimal acidic soil nutrient rich pH 4 % OM 12.1

soil has high organic matter content Dune Heath / Woodland: the plants Human interference means that true mixed woodland climax vegetation is rarely seen on dune systems in the UK Most dune systems develop into a community of heathland, woody perennials (often spinous) and scattered trees Heather

Revision materials Heather Sea buckthorn Psammosere: summary of stages A Question of Psammoseres The nine number question board which follows is adapted

from a template made available by : www.sln.org.uk/geography Click on a number to link to a question Click the back button to link back to the question board Once selected, numbers will change colour A Question of Psammoseres 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8

9 Use end show command to exit presentation 1 What type of dunes are forming in the foreground of this photograph? 2

This photo shows ground cover somewhere within a dune system. What stage of the psammosere is it associated with? Can you name any of the plants growing in the photo? 3 What is the dominant species in this photograph? At which stage of the psammosere would you expect to find it? How is this plant adapted to its environment? 4

This photo shows ground cover somewhere within a dune system. What stage of the psammosere is it associated with? What is the dominant species? Why is the other plant also able to grow here? 5 In which stage of the dune succession would plants like these be found? How are they adapted to the environment there?

Can you name either of the species shown? 6 What name is given to areas of open water such as this which are found within dune systems? Name some of the plants which you might expect to find growing there 7 This photo shows ground cover somewhere within a

dune system What stage of the psammosere is it associated with? Can you name any of the plants growing in the photo? 8 The climax vegetation of a dune succession would look similar to this photo What is meant by the term climax vegetation? Why is a community of plants like this one rarely found in dune systems in the UK?

9 The photo shows a dense community of foreshore plants Name some of the plants you would expect to find here and explain how they are able to survive in this environment

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