Forty years of succession on an abandoned building site at the University of Michigan Biological Station

TitleForty years of succession on an abandoned building site at the University of Michigan Biological Station
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1973
AuthorsDuncan T
JournalMichigan Botanist

Maps of the vegetation for a 38-square-meter plot occupied 1924-1929 by the Botany Laboratory at the University of Michigan Biological Station have shown that: 1. The flora of both vascular and non-vascular plants changed during each interval of time between mapping. Although the number of species was not radically different, the same set of species was not present at each mapping of the area. 2. There is a strong correlation between duration of the plant and its persistence in this area with annuals and biennials being mainly adventives and perennials persisting. 3. Initially the area was covered sparsely by a few individuals of vascular plants with the area mostly bare sand. 4. The first species to become established were weedy colonizers of open exposed areas. Mosses became established later and spread throughout most of the plot. As litter accumulated, vascular plants began to spread. In areas of leaf litter accumulation, greater numbers of individuals of each species have been able to become established. As this continued, tree seedlings became established both in areas of litter accumulation and in the areas of moss cover. 5. Mosses were pioneers of the non-vascular plants with Ceratodon purpureus appearing first, forming a colony covering 94.5% of the plot in 1950, and then being replaced during the last 20 years by Polytrichum juniperinum and P. piliferum. In recent years, with the accumulation of leaf litter and continued growth of clones of vascular plants, the moss colony has decreased in coverage of the plot. 6. Lichens have also appeared during the last 20 years. Nine species of the genus Cladonia were found growing in and among the members of the moss colony. 7. Disturbance by animals and man has slowed the progress of succession in this area. 8. Assuming little or no disturbance, it may be expected that in the future, aspen suckers and tree seedlings of several species will persist, herbs such as Poa compressa and Melampyrum lineare will increase, and moss and lichen cover will continue to decrease.