Climax Community in Ecology: Characteristics and Theories!
When the final terminal community becomes stablised for a longer period of time and it can maintain itself in equilibrium with the climate of the area, it is known as climax community.
The final community is not replaced and, therefore, the stage is known as climax stage.
Climax has the following- important characteristics:
Climax is a unit. All the species are taken as an organised unit to show the climate. In other words, climax is a unit, which acts as the index of climate of an area.
The form of the climax community is stable with the climate. The climax community cannot be replaced through competition.
(c) Origin and Organism Concept:
Climax community is interpreted as a super organism. This community takes birth, grows and develops like an organism. Climax communities undergo changes with the changes of time and climate.
There are three theories about the climax community.
(a) Mono-climax theory
(b) Poly-climax theory
(c) Climax-pattern hypothesis
(a) Mono-climax theory:
This theory was proposed by Fedeick Climents in 1916. Accordingly to this theory, there develops only one type of climax community in a climatic region of a geographical area. The other communities existing besides the climax community in that area, are called as subordinate communities.
The subordinate communities may be:
Since in an area of uniform climate, different types of climax communities can develop, it will be inappropriate to consider climate as a determining factor for climax formation. Besides, climax state is a form of minimum changes and it is not the final changed form of the succession. So mono-climax theory faces a lot of criticisms.
(b) Poly climax theory:
This theory was proposed by Braun- Blanquet and Tansley in 1935 considering the objection to monoclimax theory. According to this theory, the climax communities are controlled by a number of factors besides the climatic conditions of a geographical area. So the climax stage may be named depending upon the nature of the factor in stablization:
(i) Topographic Climax:
The climax community stabilized by topographical factors of an area like hills, mountains, slopes etc. is known as topographical climax.
(ii) Biotic Climax:
The climax of biotic community stabilised by living factors including man, herbivores, and animals are known as anthropogenic climax, grazing climax and zootic climax respectively.
(iii) Edaphic Climax:
The climax community stabized due to soil factor is known as edaphic climax.
The climax resulted by repeated fire is called fire climax.
(c) Climax-pattern hypothesis:
This hypothesis was proposed by R.I-1. Whittaker in 1953. According this hypothesis, a number of climax communities may develop in an area under a particular set of climatic conditions. That is, communities change their living pattern related to the different environmental conditions of the habitat by adjusting themselves.