Recolonization and Succession in Soft-Sediment Infaunal Communities: the Spatial Scale of Controlling Factors

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Ecological succession


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Marine Biology


Succession in marine soft-sediment habitats has been studied extensively and several general models of successional dynamics have been developed. However, few researchers have addressed how successional dynamics may change over different spatial scales. Here we extend a model that focuses on the factors that control recolonization and succession. These factors comprise three levels of a hierarchy which include environmental conditions, life history and population processes and biotic interactions. Using this hierarchical framework, we consider the spatial scales at which different factors operate, and argue that the relative mix and intensity of factors controlling succession change at different spatial scales. As a result, successional dynamics may vary considerably as the spatial scale of disturbance increases. At small scales, factors at each level of the hierarchy are important. The greater potential for biotic interactions at this scale may be particularly critical. At meso- to large scales, population processes and environmental conditions have the most influence on successional dynamics. Due to these differences, responses to small-scale (≲ 1 m2) as well as large-scale (≳ 1 hectare) disturbances may be quite variable. Within this range (≳ 1 m2 ≲ 1 hectare), short- and long-term responses to disturbance may be relatively more predictable and conform to current models of succession in soft-sediment habitats.


Book chapter is for sale at Springer. Book is available at Amazon.

Publisher Citation

Zajac, R.N., Whitlatch, R.B., Thrush, S.F. (1998). Recolonization and succession in soft-sediment infaunal communities: the spatial scale of controlling factors. In Recruitment, Colonization and Physical-Chemical Forcing in Marine Biological Systems, pp. 227-240. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN-13: 978-9048151097 .

This document is currently not available here.