Biomass is the living and dead organic materials generated by plants and other organisms in a particular ecosystem. It is also the measure of the total dry mass of organisms in a particular habitat. It is known that the accumulation of biomass in the forest ecosystem is greater than any other ecosystem on Earth. The increase and decrease of biomass are usually determined by the trophic levels. Trophic levels refer to the position an organism occupies in the food chain. Forest biomass generally decreases at each higher trophic level, whereas marine biomass increases at each higher trophic level.
A biomass pyramid is a way to visualize the ecosystem structure within the ocean. These pyramids depict the amount of energy stored by living organisms at different trophic levels. They quantify the amount of biomass each trophic level possesses at a particular time. It is represented in the form of a graph measuring unit areas at each trophic level. This is later converted into energy and given as calories per square meter. For example, in a pond or lake ecosystem, the mass of phytoplankton(which is the major producer) at any particular given point will be lower than the mass of fish and insects. This is because phytoplankton reproduces very quickly, but are short-lived compared to fishes and insects
The foundation of the ocean food chain is one-celled organisms called phytoplankton. These tiny plants capture solar energy and perform photosynthesis to convert nutrients and carbon dioxide into organic compounds. However, on the coast, seaweed and sea grasses do the same thing. They are the primary producers. The next level of the marine food chain is made up of animals like big fish that feed on the phytoplankton. However, in the oceanâ€™s surface water, zooplankton like mollusks and barnacles feed on these. They are secondary consumers. On level three, carnivores like sardines and menhaden feed on zooplanktons. This level also includes larger animals like octopuses. They are tertiary consumers. On level four, large predators such as sharks, tuna, and dolphins as well as birds like pelicans feed on organisms at the third trophic level. Disturbance in any one of the trophic levels can cause a wave of destruction in the entire ocean food chain.
Productivity in an ecosystem is given as the rate at which energy is consumed by organisms in the form of biomass.
Productivity can be measured for any trophic level in a biomass pyramid and can be given in units of energy or biomass.
There are two known types of productivity: gross productivity and net productivity.
Gross primary productivity or GPPâ€”the rate at which energy from the sun is captured in sugar molecules during the process of photosynthesis by autotrophs.
Net primary productivity or NPPâ€”the gross primary productivity subtracted from the rate of energy loss due to metabolism and maintenance. In other words, it can be explained as the rate at which energy is stored as biomass by primary producers in an ecosystem.
Ocean productivity largely depends upon the production of organic matter by phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton is single-celled plants present in the ocean.
They consume nutrients like calcium present in the seawater.
Phytoplankton is a photoautotroph, which means that they harvest sunlight to convert inorganic to organic carbon.
This carbon is then consumed byheterotrophs (that is, organisms that derive their energy purely from the respiration of organic matter). Ocean heterotrophs include bacteria as well as zooplanktons and organisms present on the seafloor.
When it comes to planktonic productivity, it is normally measured by the exchange of respiratory gases between plankton cells and water by collecting them as small samples.
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