Primary and Secondary Production in Terrestrial Ecosystems

  • Samuel J. McNaughton
  • Martin Oesterheld
  • Douglas A. Frank
  • Kevin J. Williams


Ecosystem-level values of net primary productivity and herbivore biomass, consumption, and secondary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems were assembled from the literature. Data on belowground processes and trophic levels higher than herbivores were too rare in the literature to warrant a comparative analysis. All herbivore trophic-level properties were positively correlated with net primary productivity. Different ecosystem types were located at different positions on a common line. However, rather than regarding herbivore-level properties as simple consequences of producer properties, we believe it is more appropriate to regard primary production as an integrative variable indicative of processes throughout the ecosystem. Although the data were limited for ecosystems where there are periodic herbivore “outbreaks,” the data available suggest that these pulsed ecosystems may be fundamentally different from ecosystems suffering chronic, consistent levels of herbivory.


Salt Marsh Tropical Forest Terrestrial Ecosystem Secondary Productivity Secondary Production 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel J. McNaughton
  • Martin Oesterheld
  • Douglas A. Frank
  • Kevin J. Williams

There are no affiliations available

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