Barber, Richard T. Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina.
Cushing, D. H. Fisheries Laboratory, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Lowestoft, United Kingdom.
Brinton, Edward Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California.
Last reviewed:December 2019
- Primary producers
- Patterns of fertility
- Size of populations and fluctuations
- Biological species and water masses
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A measure of the potential ability of seawater to support life. Fertility is distinguished from productivity, which is the actual production of living material by various trophic levels of the food web. Fertility is a broader and more general description of the biological activity of a region of the sea, while primary production, secondary production and so on, is a quantitative description of the biological growth at a specified time and place by a certain trophic level. Primary production that uses recently recycled nutrients such as ammonium, urea, or amino acids is called regenerated production to distinguish it from the new production that is dependent on nitrate being transported by mixing or circulation into the upper layer where primary production occurs. New production is organic matter, in the form of fish or sinking organic matter, that can be exported from the ecosystem without damaging the productive capacity of the system.
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