Are there more primary producers in the ocean than on land

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paula_perna asked the Naked Scientists:

Is it true that there are more primary producers in the ocean than on the land? 

Thank you.        

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 24/04/2010 16:30:02 by _system »


Offline sarah cp

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Are there more primary producers in the ocean than on land
« Reply #1 on: 06/05/2010 13:37:03 »
Yes, it is true.

Even though they are microscopic, a huge amount of primary production (the production of organic compounds from carbon dioxide) is performed by phytoplankton through photosynthesis. Other producers in the oceans include algae - as huge kelp forests or as smaller algae, and zooxanthellae - the photosynthesising protozoa within corals. Most photosynthesis occurs within the first few metres of the water column, which is why you only find photosynthetic corals and algae in relatively shallow waters.

Primary production doesn't just include photosynthesis though - chemosynthesis plays a major role in the oceans, particularly at deep sea cold seeps or hydrothermal vents. Here, there is no sunlight for photosynthesis, but bacteria living around the vents use the chemicals being released from the vents to produce organic compounds.