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7: Primary Production

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    Learning Objectives

    After reading this chapter you should:

    • be able to define primary production, gross and net production, new and regenerated production
    • know some of the major organisms involved in oceanic primary productivity
    • know what a red tide is
    • know how certain phytoplankton can cause toxic blooms
    • know the major requirements for primary production to occur
    • understand how light availability and thus primary production changes with depth
    • understand the concept of compensation depth in relation to primary production
    • know the major nutrients needed for primary production
    • know the general depth profiles for nutrients in the ocean, and the factors responsible for those curves
    • be able to describe the seasonal patterns in productivity in polar, tropical, and temperate regions, and the factors responsible for those patterns
    • understand the concept of a food web and ecological efficiency
    • understand the role played by bacteria in supporting primary production

    Primary production is the creation of new organic matter from inorganic substrates, and it is this organic matter that serves as the base of the food web for most marine consumers. Primary production generally refers to the process of photosynthesis, or the utilization of light energy to produce chemical fuels that is undertaken by plants and algae.

    Thumbnail: Red tide. (Public Domain; NOAA via Wikipedia)

    7: Primary Production is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paul Webb via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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