# Talk:Biomass (ecology)

## Untitled

Might want to link in Fibrominn. --Borisborf 03:40, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

## "40 to 60%" sounds exaggerated.

The statement "Humans, domesticated animals and crops comprise somewhere between 40 to 60% of the Earth's biomass." that appears second paragraph, second sentence; it strikes me as an error or exaggeration, but I'm no expert on the details. Is there a biologist or other specialist that could cite the research, or offer a more thorough explanation about humans and human husbandry could even approach 50% of the earth total biomass? I did a crude calculation of the volume of “human biomass” and it works out to be only 0.325 cubic km for 325 million metric tones of humans (assuming an average mass of 50 kg per individual). When I consider the vast expanses of forest and marine habitat, I’m dubious about the “40 to 60%” range given.

I agree. -Willmcw 21:52, July 17, 2005 (UTC)
It looks like someone's fixed it. There are figures for humans, domesticated animals and crops, making up about 4% altogether. No reference, though. --Random wikipedia user.

## Breakdown of Earths Biomass

I think it may be useful to include a breadown of the Earths biomass. I've been hunting for some kind of info about what percentage of the Earth's biomass is made up of plants and have found absolutely nothing on the rest of the interweb. This page is the only one that mentions percentages in any kind of meaningful way. The information is incomplete. Humans make up 0.33%, what about the rest? Where's the piechart?

No piechart, but I've inserted a Table
Regards John D. Croft 13:41, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

## Ants & Biomass Percentages

The following "Mad Scientist" post (http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/dec99/945142818.Zo.r.html) discusses (unfortunately without citation) scientific estimates that ants comprise 30% of the biomass of the Amazon basin and perhaps 10% of global biomass.

## Agreed, we need more data

It is my understanding that generally speaking, the smaller the organism, the greater its total biomass. Certainly this would give ants, krill, fungus and perhaps even bacteria much greater mass than we imagine. I too was searching for a "Pie chart" breakdown but perhaps the definition is at issue as well since I am not immediately interested in the sum total of all organic weight wether dead or alive as I now know biomass defines. I would rather prefer a breakdown of living organisms as defined by biosphere. Any further specification would be helpful.

## Estimate of total biomass is incorrect.

The page defines biomass as:

"Biomass is organic non-fossil material, collectively. In other words, 'biomass' describes the mass of all biological organisms, dead or alive..."

and then goes on to state:

"The entire earth contains about 75 billion tons of biomass."

Assuming 1 billion is 109, this estimate is too low to be consistent with the definition. To give an example, in its "Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000", the FAO estimates that the "global total above-ground woody biomass was 422 billion tonnes" [1] --David Wardle 04:24, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes, the correct value for total organic carbon (about 75% of total dry biomass) is most likely to be at least 1 exagram. (i.e. 1018 grams) (Whitman et al., 1998) So the total biomass value may be on the same order of magnitude. 79.127.4.255 (talk) 07:48, 8 October 2008 (UTC)Fleximon
The inclusion of "dead" organic material in "biomass" is wrong. That would include all fossil fuels in the earth's crust. Biomass is all living things. The problem is how to count wood. The heartwood of a tree is technically dead in many cases, but is normally included as biomass.Cadwallader (talk) 22:48, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I can't believe this article doesn't seem to answer the most important basic question, "what is the biomass of the Earth?" Has anyone ever tried to answer this question in a scientific paper?Cadwallader (talk) 17:59, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Well it's not really surprising if you consider the immensity of the task. There is an estimate, in the article, of terrestrial and ocean primary production. The first estimate of the biomass of fish was not made until earlier this year (2009), and I've added it to the table. There is not yet any estimate of total ocean biomass, partially because what goes on in the deeper ocean is not clear. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment project will presumably come up with the figure you want in a few years time. --Geronimo20 (talk) 21:48, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

## I tagged it for cleanup

This subject deserves a better article. --Smithfarm 11:33, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

I would like to know how to tag this for needing much more in-depth information. It's a stub entry. I'm in touch with people at Nottingham's biomass plant which supplies local heat and electricity to the city centre area in the uk - there must be experts around who wouldn't mind sharing... July 06 Shomon

## Prokaryotic Diversity anyone?

I don't understand how an article can be written about biomass, and have none, zero, zip mention of prokaryotic life. The most diverse, and basal elements of the ecological ladder get shafted so some joker can make off hand remarks about Krill.

I fart in the general direction of anyone associated with this article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 69.181.181.36 (talkcontribs) .

Good point. Rather than farting you could add some information about it. --Salix alba (talk) 12:02, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

I came to this article looking for good information about where the biomass is. I was looking to confirm data on pg 393 of A History of Knowledge by Charls Van Doren ISBN 0-345-37316-2.

## Biomass Fuel

Quoting from the biomass for biofuels article, "bioethanol, biobutanol and biodiesel; these two last ones are direct biofuels." I'm curious what a direct biofuel is compared to an indirect biofuel. Also, the article barely mentions biomass being burnt and used as a cooking/heating fuel when this is the dominant use. User:Mrshaba

## Ocean Biomass

I am surprised that this article says that the oceans biomass is so small (~4 billion tonnes) compared to the land (~1870 billion tonnes). I find it hard to believe, it needs to be checked. Nicolharper 18:24, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

The table is of biomass production for human use. Perhaps a more appropriate table could be found. —Pengo talk · contribs 03:44, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Pengo. Thanks for checking it. Nicolharper 18:10, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I just read page 11 of reference 1 (World Atlas of Biodiversity: Earth's living..). It states that the amount of overall carbon is more land bound (terrestrial) than in oceans. "The great majority of carbon at any one time lies within the lithosphere, around 80 percent as carbonate and the remainder as organic compounds." Now according to my interpretation, this does not indicate that the majority of biomass is found on land - since carbonates form in many inorganic substances as well (marble for example). Is this a misquote of the source? kichir 15:50, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

poop — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.108.107.4 (talk) 12:40, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

## definition

For what it's worth, here is the definition of biomass from a standard published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers and cross adopted by the American National Standards Institute. ike9898 16:27, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Biomass: Organic materials that are plant or animal based,including but not limited to dedicated energy crops, agricultural crops andtrees, food, feed and fiber crop residues, aquatic plants, forestry and wood residues, agricultural wastes, biobased segments of industrial andmunicipal wastes, processing by-products and other non-fossil organic materials.
ANSI/ASABE S593 MAY2006
Terminology and Definitions for Biomass Production, Harvesting and Collection, Storage, Processing, Conversion and Utilization
The above quote is a definition for biomass fuels, not for ecological biomass.Cadwallader (talk) 17:58, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

## "Biomass production" table

I think the columns of the "Biomass production" table need to be explained. What is "world biomass" for instance? The article says that the total biomass in the world is 75 billion tons, but the entries in this column are much larger. A5 17:25, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

## Biomass (ecology) - reference for prokaryotes

This reference (from Wiki page on bacteria) estimates that the carbon content of all prokaryotes is 350-550 Pg. (1 Pg = 10^15 g = 1 billion tons). The dry weight would be about double this, 700-1100 billion tones.

^ Whitman W, Coleman D, Wiebe W (1998). "Prokaryotes: the unseen majority". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95 (12): 6578 – 83. PMID 9618454.

Graham853 20:53, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

## Mass vs. Biomass

I just tossed in the percentage of how much of the Earth's mass is biomass. 75 trillion kg is 0.00000000126% of 6e24 kg. Even if the 7.5e13 kg is an estimate, it still provides a general sense of how much of the Earth is actually organic in nature. samwaltz 07:00, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

## Arithmetic is fun

Humans comprise about 250 million tons (0.33%) of the Earth's biomass

Which leads to an interesting figure of the average human weighing 34 kilograms, or 75 lbs. Now, even given that not every human being in the world is a fully-grown fully-nourished adult, this seems suspiciously low. --76.224.78.226 11:56, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

I think it's only dry biomass, water excluded. Thus it is only 30% of the total weight of people (the rest is water). Now it seems a bit high, though - 120 kg per person? Dan Gluck 09:41, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
I cannot see the point in excluding water from the biomass. And I think it should, at least, be mentioned. Grasyop 03:39, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

estimates about 1 trillion tons biomass total —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ciphergoth (talkcontribs) 11:36, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

## Units/tons English/US measurement?

Are the units (e.g. "tons") in this article English/US units? (Ton) -- Writtenonsand (talk) 12:11, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

And the article should use scientific notation; simply using the word 'billion' only gets you within a factor of 1000 of knowing what the number is, since a British billion is 10^12 while an American billion is 10^9.Scentoni (talk) 21:11, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

No, the article should avoid scientific notation when common terms will do. Scientific notation confuses many readers. There is no confusion with "billion"; in both American and British English billion means 1,000 million. You are referring to an archaic British usage which would confuse only ancient relics, born back in the mists of time, like myself. See the Oxford Dictionary. --Epipelagic (talk) 02:46, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

## Krill vs Humans 500 to 100 is more than twice

it says "Antarctic krill...probably over 500 million tons, roughly twice the total biomass of humans." then later says "Humans comprise about 100 million tons (0.13%) of the Earth's biomass" so either 500, 100, or "twice" is wrong. Which is it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrrealtime (talkcontribs) 03:08, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

-- Just want to add, perhaps the article should also mention how measurements of biomass are taken (i.e. methodology). just my two cents... Edansmommy (talk) 21:06, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

## every species is 30%?

what is the "% biomass" column in the table supposed to represent? to me this says humans are 30% of the earths biomass, as are cows, sheep, chickens, and ants. krill are "wet percent" of the earth's biomass. whatever this means, it needs to be clarified —Preceding unsigned comment added by 146.6.203.178 (talk) 13:32, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

I think the figure refers to the dried biomass without water, rather than percentage of the total. 71.236.24.129 (talk) 12:20, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

## Skinny cows?

Cattle at 400 kg sound rather skinny. A milk cow usually comes in at 500 to 800 kg and a bull at around a metric ton (1,000 kg) or more.71.236.24.129 (talk) 12:10, 16 May 2009 (UTC) Well that's mature cattle only, and the figures also vary with breed and locality. --Geronimo20 (talk) 20:08, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

## Antarctic Krill 0.7% of biomass?

A source was cited for this number, but I think someone inserted a wrong citation. I scanned the entire book with a search action, using "0.7" as text. No results were found in any of the chapters. According to another source, however, just 0.1 percent of the total biomass consists of animals! Trapp, S.: Trapp, S.: "Can global biomass influence global chemical cycles?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hypernovic (talkcontribs) 20:41, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

## Title of article

I emphatically suggest that this article be titled simply, "Biomass" and NOT "Biomass (ecology)" the Biomass energy page should have the parenthetical, lest we be guilty of defining knowledge only in terms of current fads. The WORD biomass has nothing to do with the production of electricity for human use. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.232.186.138 (talk) 17:14, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Agree. It's certainly what I was looking for when I typed in biomass, and I was surprised to see the main topic thing be a parenthetical. But I'm too lazy to do any work towards this other than to vote. DewiMorgan (talk) 18:17, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm kind of new, where can I go to vote?KendoSnowman (talk) 19:41, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

## Adjusted figures for dry/wet biomass

Hi

I've put some more recent references in that estimate Krill wet biomass as 379 Mt, and also changed the table structure somewhat to show wet & dry biomasses, addressing a comment further up. I've also added the date for which they apply, which is obviously important for (say) the human population!

By my calculations, human (wet) biomass is about the same as krill, and cattle substantially more, but I haven't filled in the cattle (wet) biomass column, as it would contradict the quote about Antarctic Krill being the most massive animal species. Anyone have any actual references for this?

I've also put in some referenced figures for Blue whales, on the assumption that people will be interested in the biomass of the biggest living animal (which, perhaps not coincidentally, feeds on krill). Maybe someone wants to write this in to the text somewhere too.

HYanWong (talk) 23:28, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

## Plants vs Bacteria

It is claimed: The total global live biomass has been estimated as 560 billion tonnes C[1], most of which is found in forests.[2]
However, in Bacteria article, this is claimed: forming a biomass that exceeds that of all plants and animals.[4]
The first one could very well be true, since there are plenty of bacteria in the forests. But this is not supported by the source [2] which clearly states they consider only plants (all plants would be 90% of the biomass). So, they can't both be right. 85.217.44.72 (talk) 10:23, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

## Human population and biomass

There seems to be something wrong with the 4.63 billion human population in 2005. Should this be another year or a different population figure?

It would be nice to visualize total human biomass - such as a medium size hill.

Also would be nice to have an energy / resource used per unit biomass per year. Ecological footprint per unit biomass per year. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.192.98.130 (talk) 01:38, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

• The 4.63 billion is for adults only. If the 350 million tonnes of all adults and children alive today were liquified, they would fill a cube-shaped tank with sides 700 metres long. The volume is about one third of a cubic kilometre. But I'm not sure a lot of people want to visualise that. --Epipelagic (talk) 02:43, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

You guys need to agree on something rather than have the article have paragraphs that consist solely of sentences directly contradicting each other. It's simply unbelievable how much of a disgrace this article is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.78.3.83 (talk) 23:56, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

This is not an easy topic because biomass is defined and measured in different ways, and because of the sources themselves contradict each other. Wikipedia had done its job if it reflects what the best reliable sources are saying. If you have better reliable sources with significant information that is not in the article, then please let us know what the sources are or edit the article yourself, citing your sources. --Epipelagic (talk) 01:03, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The entry for ants is problematic for two reasons: 1) the dry biomass is listed as 30% of the total biomass, which would make the dry biomass 1000-10,000 tons, NOT 9000-90,000 tons; 2) that estimate makes ants represent a greater proportion of the biomass than krill, which contradicts other parts of the article, e.g. the picture of krill with the caption that says that krill are the heaviest animal on earth by total biomass.

The first point should be fairly easy to fix for now, if you have time to go to the original source to double-check the math, but the second point looks like something you'd need to spend a bit of time on.

69.159.141.230 (talk) 19:43, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

## Stub?

This article seems like a stub entry for a topic of this scale. There is lots of information missing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by KendoSnowman (talkcontribs) 19:48, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Jolly good. Can we look forward to you being a bit more helpful and doing some work yourself? Specifically what information is missing? Would you please find reliable sources that provide that information. When you have done some work, you might like to re-evaluate whether the current article is a stub or not. --Epipelagic (talk) 22:49, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

There is a contradiction between this page and the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanternfish From Lanternfish page retrieved 5/1/2014 "Sampling via deep trawling indicates lanternfish account for as much as 65% of all deep-sea fish biomass.[1] Indeed, lanternfish are among the most widely distributed, populous, and diverse of all vertebrates, playing an important ecological role as prey for larger organisms. With an estimated global biomass of 550 - 660 million metric tonnes,"

From this page. "The most successful animal species, in terms of biomass, may well be Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, with a fresh biomass approaching 500 million tonnes"

I have no clue which is correct. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 104.34.71.188 (talk) 06:02, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Both statements are correct. There is no contradiction. Lanternfish are not a single species, but a family of 33 genera containing hundreds of different species. --Epipelagic (talk) 07:11, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

## Inconsistency, confusion, bias?

Three domains, so what's the biomass of each? Simple enough question yet trying to deduce the answer from Wiki's pages is proving to be a dizzying task. Ok, there's no precise answer, got that, but still, from this article and that on archaea:

Total biomass excluding bacteria = 560 bn tonnes live mass (from illustration),
= appx 168 bn tonnes dry mass equivalent (extrapolated from table)
Bacteria = 450 bn tonne (dry mass, from table)
Archaea = <20% of biomass (from Archaea)
Therefore biomass proportions (wet or dry:
Bacteria - 73%, Archaea, say - 15-20%, Eukaryota - 7-12%
(Eukaryote = Algae + Plants + [[Slime molds + Animals + Fungi)

Yes, Archaea should be mentioned. At first blush, your desire to tidy all the loose ends so the lists contain meaningful and accurate totals, and so consistent overviews and summaries are provided across major biological divisions, sounds very sensible. But, to date, any editor who rewrote the article so it appeared to be compliant with your requirements would have to depend on a mess of unwarranted original research made up from the editor's head. This is because the scientific basis for such a tidy overview simply does not exist yet in the literature.
Take for example the question of the biomass of fish. There are over 34,000 known fish species, and an unknown number of unknown fish species. We are only just beginning to discover what goes on deep in the ocean. The first scientific attempt to estimate the total fish biomass was made five years ago. The estimate is uncertain, covering a wide range 800-2,000 million tonnes, and as you can see from more recent research there has been no confirmation of this estimate by other authors. No one, as far as I am aware, has attempted similar estimates for other major divisions of marine life. The biomass of plankton, or larger marine crustaceans such as krill, fluctuates enormously over short periods of time.
As you can see above, this article regularly attracts criticism similar to your own. But the article in its present form reflects reasonably accurately what current research has to say on biomass. That includes "inconsistency and confusion". The article is somewhat messy with many holes and loose ends, because that is where current research is at. In time it can be improved as new research emerges. But it will be some time yet before the article can pull everything together in the way both you and I'm sure the rest of us would really like to see. --Epipelagic (talk) 20:09, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
I hear that and appreciate the problem, I think. But I disagree with the conclusion. I'm saying this because it is a wider problem we're having at the moment in the wider world so to speak. To give an example from climate change I recently had confirmation that the models used for climate change prediction do not include for methane release. It would seem not to be being argued that there is any possibility that methane release will not have a massive impact on the models and predictions. The only issue at question is just how massive that impact will be. The result is that at the moment, and for perhaps a further decade or more, there is an immense blindspot in all the major investments of both time and resources being made at all levels, from the political to that of specific the large scale engineering projects being planned and financed.
We are in the wierdest of binds. While the science and scientific data is arguably better in many substantive ways than at any time in history the impact it is having on socio-economic behaviours is at "best" chaotic and fragmented and at "worst" misguided and ineffective. The scientific community seems to have circled their wagons. Perhaps after their brutalization at the hands of the media et al that is understandable. The general public, and the politicians they utlimately drive, for their part are left to piece it all together for themselves ... or simply to give up. Guess which option they overwhelmingly choose?! IMO there remains the option for the knowledge community that I put to the met: "publish and be damned", but for the fainter hearted there are words such "estimates vary between x and y" or "it is currently believed that x .." and so on which can be used to ovecome the problem of "the absence of certainty". This absence of certainty being seen as a problem nearly a century after the birth of quantum mechanics etc is the most damning indictment of our "scientific" societies.
The fundamentalist mindset on wiki, which somehow views the "OR" that is intrinsic to all expression as fundamentally different to the "OR" that consolidates information as neutrally as possible, is both unhelpful and, in the end, counterproductive. There simply will never and can never be a time when "all the information is in". About anything. All those of us engaged in quotidial planning have to use to make the choices that must be made in the next few hours is that which we have to hand. We choose and decide on that basis. It is never perfect. It is always flawed. That's just life. Wiki needs to find a way to get over it and stop hiding behind the figleaf of the spurious philosophical argument re OR that many of us dispensed with during our fresher years.
No offence intended by any of this, I hope you understand, but wiki carries a huge influence and therefroe responsibility that is not as easily dispensed with as by simply mechanically following a set of rules. We must remember that "time and tide" is not waiting while the "jury is out". In the absence of information from wiki, people make their choice from amongst the journalists, pundits, and gurus out there who are earning their living through info-tainment and polemic. Their commentary is not considered OR!
Perhaps there really is no escape from this insanity but even so speaking out about it is better than remaining silent. So, just to be crystal: I know there is no answer, to anything, and I know that's because the question itseklf will always be moot. I am not looking for such an answer. I simply don't expect to have to consolidate the existing data/interpretatios of the data for myself. I expect to find it in research material e.g on wiki. For myself I've got the picture I needed and, when the forces are not dead set against me (Iraq!) I generally do. That summary is in my previous comment. Very few will read it but it exists and I have it now. Of course this summary will be refined or even overturned in the years and centuries ahead but we live our lives now and make decisions now not tomorrow. That never comes. And summaries, when honest, are easily good enough for that. LookingGlass (talk) 11:12, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

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## Article falls short of a comprehensive or integrated view

See here: "...Wikipedia serves as a highly effective platform for making accessible a range of estimates on various taxa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomass_(ecology)#Global_biomass) but currently falls short of a comprehensive or integrated view." Count Iblis (talk) 06:15, 23 May 2018 (UTC)