Primary producers

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The leaf is the primary site of photosynthesis in plants.

Primary producers take energy from other organisms and turn it into energy that is used. In almost all cases, these are photosynthetically active organisms (plants, cyanobacteria, protists and a number of other unicellular organisms; see article on photosynthesis). They make usable energy for themselves and other organisms by taking energy from non living sources.[1] However, there are examples of archaea and bacteria (unicellular organisms) that produce biomass from the oxidation of inorganic chemical compounds (chemoautotrophs) in hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean. These organisms are considered to exist at the lowest trophic level.[2] There are many other types of examples of primary producers. Chemosynthesis plays an important role in being a primary producer as well. These organisms are the reasons why Earth is sustainable for life to this day.


There are many different types of primary producers in the Earth's ecosystem at different states. Fungi and other organisms that gain their biomass from oxidizing organic materials are called decomposers and are not primary producers. However, lichens located in tundra climates are an exceptional example of a primary producer that, by mutualistic symbiosis, combine photosynthesis by algae (or additionally nitrogen fixation by cyanobacteria) with the protection of a decomposer fungus. Also, plant-like primary producers (trees, algae) use the sun as a form of energy and put it into the air for other organisms.[1] There are of course H2O primary producers, including a form of bacteria, and phytoplankton. As there are many examples of primary producers, two dominant types are coral and one of the many types of brown algae, kelp.[1]


Gross primary production occurs by photosynthesis. This is also a main way that primary producers take energy and produce/release it somewhere else. Plants, coral, bacteria, and algae do this. Bacteria is a more recent find in the process of photosynthesis with primary producers, as they were just[when?] discovered in the soil. During photosynthesis, primary producers take energy from the sun and produce it into energy, sugar, and oxygen. Primary producers also need energy to convert this same energy elsewhere, so they get it from nutrients. One type of nutrient is nitrogen.[2][1]

Importance of primary producers[edit]

Without primary producers, organisms that are capable of producing energy on their own, the Earth would be unable to sustain itself.[1] Plants, along with other primary producers, produce the energy that beings consume, and the oxygen that they breathe.[1]

It is thought that the first organisms on Earth were primary producers located on the ocean floor.[1]

Primary production in tropical streams and rivers[edit]

Aquatic algae are a significant contributor to food webs in tropical rivers and streams. This is displayed by net primary production, a fundamental ecological process that reflects the amount of carbon that is synthesized within an ecosystem. This carbon ultimately becomes available to consumers. Net primary production displays that the rates of in-stream primary production in tropical regions are at least an order of magnitude greater than similar temperate systems.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "What Are Primary Producers?". Sciencing. Retrieved 2018-02-08. 
  2. ^ a b Post, David M. (March 2002). "USING STABLE ISOTOPES TO ESTIMATE TROPHIC POSITION: MODELS, METHODS, AND ASSUMPTIONS". Ecology. 83 (3): 703–718. doi:10.1890/0012-9658(2002)083[0703:USITET]2.0.CO;2. 
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