Slow Seminar no. 15: Climax, Succession, Alternate Stable States: theories and practices of change in ecology

AURA post.doc Filippo Bertoni is the organizer of this AURA Slow Seminar on ecology.

2015.01.22 | Mia Korsbæk

Date Fri 06 Mar Thu 05 Mar
Time 15:00    18:00
Location Jens Christians Skous vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C, building 1451, 515

Introductory reading:

A popular ecology textbook, Krebs’ chapter on succession offers a simple and clear overview of the concept of succession.

Krebs, Charles. 2008. The ecological world view - “Community dynamics – succession” Ch.11:213-243.

Classic papers in ecology:

These are classical papers that are often cited articles in the discipline and can help us understand the development of the notion of succession and of different theories of change in ecology.

Holling, C. S. 1973. “Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems.” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4: 1–23.

May, Robert M. 1977. “Thresholds and Breakpoints in Ecosystems with a Multiplicity of Stable States.” Nature 269(5628): 471–77.

* Tansley, A. G. 1935. “The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts and Terms” Ecology 16(3):284-307.

* Clements, Frederic E. 1936. “Nature and Structure of the Climax” Journal of Ecology 24(1):252-284.

* Gleason, H. A. 1926 “The Individualistic Concept of the Plant Association” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 53(1):7-26.

Contemporary papers:

Davis’ and colleagues’ paper attempts to offer the notion of vegetation change as a reunifying concept in plant sciences, and, in so doing, promises to offer us insight on the kind of work that can be done with various ideas of change in ecology. Zumsteg’s and colleagues’ paper explores ‘primary’ succession at a micro level offering interesting insights into different ways to understand succession.

Davis, Mark et al. 2005. “Vegetation change: a reunifying concept in plant ecology.” Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 7(1):69-76.

*Zumsteg, Anite et al. 2012. “Bacterial, Archaeal and Fungal Succession in the Forefield of a Receding Glacier” Microbial Ecology 63(3):552-64.

History of ideas in ecology:

Worsters’ classical history of ecology offer a simple (at times too simple) history of the ideas that developed in (mainstream) (American) ecology. In chapter 11 he ties the development of the debate around climax (notably between Clements and Gleason) to the 1930s dust bowl in the US. In chapter 17 he connects earlier questions in ecology to more recent problems concerning the human impact on the planet.

Worsters, Donald. 1994. Nature’s Economy - “Dust Follows the Plow” Ch. 12:221-256 & “Disturbing Nature” Ch. 17:388-433.

*Anker, Peder. 2001. Imperial Ecology – “Conclusion: A World without History” 237-50.


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