US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District Website Website

Process overview: successional development

Estuary succession modelSuccessional development involves the natural progression from one ecosystem complex type to another, generally with increasing structural complexity.


The figure at right is a model of successional development in Pacific Northwest estuaries (Procter et al. 1980b).


Structures that affect successional development:

  • Scrub-shrub forest
  • Emergent marsh
  • Mud / sand flats
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation 

Ecosystem functions that are affected by successional development:

  • Aesthetics / recreation
  • Biodiversity maintenance
  • Flood attenuation
  • Salmonid production
  • Other fish production
  • Avifauna production
  • Wildlife production

Interactions and equations:

Contact information

Ronald Thom, Ph.D

Marine Research Operations, PNNL
1529 W. Sequim Bay Rd.
Sequim, WA 98382