Aquatic Primary Production

Authored by: Charles R. Goldman

Encyclopedia of Environmental Science and Engineering

Print publication date:  June  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439804421
eBook ISBN: 9780203757659
Adobe ISBN:


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Primary productivity in aquatic systems, like the same process in terrestrial environments, provides the base of the food web upon which all higher levels of an ecosystem depend. Biological productivity is the increase in organic material per unit of area or volume with time. This addition of organic matter is the material from which various plant and animal communities of an ecosystem are made, and is dependent on the conversion of inorganic matter into organic matter. Conversion is accomplished by plants through the photosynthetic process. Plants are therefore considered to be the primary producers, and in an aquatic ecosystem, these plants include algae, bacteria, and sometimes higher plants such as water grasses and water lilies. Primary productivity, the first level of productivity in a system, can be measured as the rate of photosynthesis, addition of biomass per unit of time (yield), or indirectly by nutrient loss or a measure of respiration of the aquatic community.

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