An Overview of Secondary Production in Pelagic Ecosystems

  • R. Williams
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 13)


For the purpose of this general view of secondary production in the pelagic environment I shall consider that secondary production is almost synonymous with Zooplankton production with fish referred to as tertiary producers. Although I shall deal principally with zooplankton, to accurately quantify the level and rate of secondary production in a pelagic ecosystem requires a complete understanding of the functioning of all trophic levels and the interaction of the processes within the ecosystem. I repeat the sentiment expressed by Mann (1969) that the average ecosystem is so complex that ecologists have tended to concentrate their attention on the processes involving single species or isolated food chains. Over a decade later this is still true but positive steps have been taken towards gaining insights to the structure and functioning of ecosystems using the holistic approach of modelling biological systems (Nihoul, 1975; Platt et al., 1981). The cycle of production of material in the sea is usually described in simple terms starting with the incorporation of solar energy into autotrophic production in the euphotic zone. The amount of primary production is restrained by the availability of nutrients and grazing activities of the herbivores/omnivores.


Trophic Level Marine Ecosystem Plankton Community Secondary Production Grazing Rate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Environment Research CouncilInstitute for Marine Environmental ResearchPlymouthUK

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