In early ecological literature, the term pioneer was used to describe those plant species that initiate community development on bare substrate (primary succession). More recently, usage of the term has included microbial and invertebrate taxa, and describes the first colonists of sites affected by less extreme disturbance which undergo secondary succession. Pioneers of primary and secondary successions share some traits; in both cases colonization of new habitat depends on effective dispersal, which generally selects for high reproductive output and small propagule size. However, differences in resource availability between these habitat types result in different opportunities for growth and reproduction. Few species can be successful on both primary and secondary successions.

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