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Phytomass and Primary Production of the Various Vegetational Zones and of the Entire Biosphere The biosphere is that thin layer at the earth's surface in which living organisms exist and biological cycling takes place. It includes the upper horizons of the soil in which plants root, the atmosphere near the ground, (insofar as organisms penetrate this space), and all the surface waters. More than 99% of the earth's biomass is phytomass, to which we shall limit our discussion. Amounts of phytomass are distinctly related to vegeta tional zones. Because accurate determination of phytomass and primary production is difficult, only gross estimates have been available until recently. However, in 1970, Bazilevich et al. published (in Russian) more accurate calculations, based on the rapidly accumulating literature, for the various thermal zones and bioclimatic regions of the earth. These authors calculated mean phyto mass and mean annual primary production for the various regions as dry mass (in tons) per hectare. On the basis of measurements of the areas covered by the individual regions, excluding rivers, lakes, glaciers, and permanent snow, total phytomass and total annual primary production for the various regions were obtained (see table). The sum of these figures is the phytomass and annual production of the land surface of the earth. In addition, the table gives corresponding data for the waters of the earth. The values involved are potential i. e. , they are based on natural vegetation uninfluenced by man.
Vegetation cyclin earth plants soil