Primary Productivity: It All Depends on Who You Ask
Vicki A Benge
Life on Earth exists as we know it thanks to the process -- whereby green plants and certain other organisms utilized light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen -- known as photosynthesis. Ecologists attempt to measure the biomass created through this process and the carbon remaining for consumption. Thus, reference may be made to the primary productivity of an ecosystem or a particular region.
What do ecologists mean when they refer to the primary productivity of an ecosystem or a particular area? The answer received depends on who one asks. For example, biologist Sylvia S. Mader, author of the Essentials of Biology textbook defines primary productivity as "the amount of biomass produced primarily by photosynthesis" and as "the rate at which producers capture and store energy as organic nutrients over a certain length of time."