The key difference between zonation and succession is that zonation refers to spatial patterning of plant communities into brands in response to change over a distance while succession refers to the change of composition of the community over time.
Zonation and succession are two concepts explained in ecology. Zonation explains the changes in a community along an environmental gradient due to abiotic factors. Succession is a sequence of communities over time. It involves several steps as colonization, establishment and extinction. Moreover, zonation is a spatial phenomenon, while succession is a temporal phenomenon.
What is Zonation?
Zonation is the gradual change in the distribution of species across a habitat. In other words, it is the arrangement of communities along an environmental gradient due to several abiotic factors such as altitude, latitude, tidal level and distance from shore, etc. Therefore, it is a description and categorization of communities at a given time, unlike succession, which is an evolution over a period of time.
Birds live in the canopy while mammals live on the ground. This describes the vertical zonation of the forest. Similarly, when you consider the distribution of plants and animals on a rocky seashore, different species can be seen inhabiting in a series of horizontal strips of the shore. This is also an example of zonation.
What is Succession?
Succession is the change in the composition of a community over a period of time. It is an orderly process of change over time in a community. Succession describes the development of ecosystems, arrival of new species and replacement of former species via competition, etc. over time. Here, until a stable climax community establishes, progressive replacement of species with dominant communities takes place. In other words, succession leads to stable climax communities. Succession stops at that time when the species composition changes no longer occur with time.
There are two main types of succession as primary succession and secondary succession. Primary succession takes place in a natural environment which was uncolonized previously. In contrast, secondary succession takes place in a place where it was previously colonized and later destroyed. Colonization of a forest which was destroyed due to a wildfire is an example for secondary succession. Generally, secondary succession is faster than the primary succession.
What are the Similarities Between Zonation and Succession?
- Zonation and succession are two phenomena that describe the change in the composition of the communities in ecosystems.
What is the Difference Between Zonation and Succession?
Zonation is the gradual change in the distribution of species across a habitat while succession is the change in species composition within an ecosystem over time. Moreover, zonation is a spatial phenomenon, while succession is a temporal phenomenon. So, this is the key difference between zonation and succession.
Below infographic tabulates the difference between zonation and succession.
Summary – Zonation vs Succession
Zonation is the gradual change in the distribution of species across a habitat due to gradual change in an abiotic factor. Therefore, it is a spatial phenomenon. In contrast, succession is the changes in communities in an ecosystem over time. Succession begins from a bare place. Then it goes through colonization, establishment, competition, stabilization and finally climax community. Therefore, succession is a temporal phenomenon. Thus, this is the difference between zonation and succession.
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2. “Succession & Zonation – VS IB Environmental Science & Systems”. Sites.Google.Com, 2020, Available here.