After a process of ecological succession the vegetation in an area reaches a steady state. Its stability is not guaranteed: invasive species and climate change can cause changes. However, relatively, the system is stable.
The idea of a single climatic climax, which is defined in relation to regional climate, originated with Frederic Clements in the early 1900s. The first analysis of succession as leading to something like a climax was written by Henry Cowles in 1899, but it was Clements who used the term "climax" to describe the idealized endpoint of succession.
- Hagen, Joel B. 1992. An Entangled Bank: the origins of ecosystem ecology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
- Clements, Frederic E. 1916. Plant succession: an analysis of the development of vegetation. Washington D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.
- Clements, Frederic E. 1936. Nature and structure of the climax. Journal of Ecology. 24 (1) pp. 252-284.
- Cowles, Henry Chandler. 1899. The ecological relations of the vegetation on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. Botanical Gazette 27(2): 95-117; 27(3): 167-202; 27(4): 281-308; 27(5): 361-391.