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Old field is a term used in ecology to describe lands formerly cultivated or grazed but later abandoned. The dominant flora include perennial grasses, heaths and herbaceous plants. Old fields are canonically defined as an intermediate stage found in ecological succession in an ecosystem advancing towards its climax community, a concept which has been debated by contemporary ecologists for some time.[1]

Old field sites are often marginal lands with soil quality unsuitable for crops or pasture. Examples include abandoned farmlands in central Ontario, along the edge of the Canadian Shield.

Stress tolerant species with wide seed dispersal ranges are able to colonize cultivated fields after their initial abandonment, usually followed by perennial grasses.[2] The succession of old fields culminates in takeover by trees and shrubs.[3]

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  1. ^ "Implications of Modern Successional Theory for Habitat Typing: A Review (PDF Download Available)". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  2. ^ Kelemen, András; Tóthmérész, Béla; Valkó, Orsolya; Miglécz, Tamás; Deák, Balázs; Török, Péter (2017-04-01). "New aspects of grassland recovery in old-fields revealed by trait-based analyses of perennial-crop-mediated succession". Ecology and Evolution. 7 (7): 2432–2440. doi:10.1002/ece3.2869. PMC 5383495. PMID 28405306.
  3. ^ Gill, David S.; Marks, P. L. (1991-01-01). "Tree and Shrub Seedling Colonization of Old Fields in Central New York". Ecological Monographs. 61 (2): 183–205. doi:10.2307/1943007. JSTOR 1943007.