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  • Cyclic succession is a pattern of vegetation change in which in a small number of species tend to replace each other over time in the absence of large-scale disturbance. Observations of cyclic replacement have provided evidence against traditional Clementsian views of an end-state climax community with stable species compositions. Cyclic succession is one of several kinds of ecological succession, a concept in community ecology. When used narrowly, ‘cyclic succession’ refers to processes not initiated by wholesale exogenous disturbances or long-term physical changes in the environment. However, broader cyclic processes can also be observed in cases of secondary succession in which regular disturbances such as insect outbreaks can ‘reset’ an entire community to a previous stage. These examples differ from the classic cases of cyclic succession discussed below in that entire species groups are exchanged, as opposed to one species for another. On geologic time scales, climate cycles can result in cyclic vegetation changes by directly altering the physical environment.