What can ecosystems teach us (part 1) ?


Lyn has been working on the TreeJourney and has been working on a new 'module' around the Ecosystem (because trees are both an ecosystem in their own right, part of a bigger ecosystem AND interact with other ecosystems).

When I was reading her material there were aspects that I wanted to explore but would make the module too big.

Mark suggested I share as a blog article. I thought that would be fun so here goes!

Ecosystems develop and grow in their own unique way

I find it helpful to recognize that ecosystems develop and grow over a period of time. A wood doesn't just appear fully formed.

We are also an ecosystem of trillions of cells (yes that much!) that also grow and develop over time.

I find this idea reassuring as it recognizes that we grow and develop at our own pace and in our own unique way. This eases the pressure to compare ourselves to someone else who is 'doing better' or who has 'already made it' which can trigger feelings of resentment or jealousy. Ultimately we can judge ourselves for not having got to the same place.

I would like to dig into just one of the elements of ecosystem development to help with some more reflection.

Pioneer species

Every ecosystem has pioneer species - these arrive early and both thrive when there is relatively little and prepare the way for those that follow (known as secondary sucession). A very straightforward example is lichen. When the landscape is bare rock, lichen will be successful and over time will prepare the way for other plants.

Lichen weathers the rocks, ultimately turning it into soil and releasing nutrients.

Pioneer species have these characteristics:

  • they have adaptations to help them colonize harsh sterile environments
  • they tend to germinate, grow, mature, and reproduce quickly;
  • the seeds and other propagules of many pioneer species are adapted to low-moisture environments, which allows them to survive long periods of dormancy

So what can we learn from pioneer species?

So pioneer species can colonize what appear to be harsh and sterile environments. They have strategies which make them successful through maturing and reproducing rapidly. They are adapted so that they and seeds can survive in harsh environments, appearing dormant.

What ideas, hopes or dreams have been dormant within you and have survived despite an apparently hostile environment?
Which of these are now ready to grow that you would love to be your pioneer species?


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