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Difference Between Gross and Net Productivity

Gross vs Net Productivity

The study of ecology involves learning about the relationships between living organisms and their environment. It examines how they came into being and how they affect and help each other grow in their respective environments.

In ecology, productivity refers to the rate of biomass generation in an ecosystem. It is the proportion of units of mass per unit of volume or surface per units of time. In plants, productivity is determined through the synthesis of organic materials from inorganic molecules into simpler organic compounds. This process is also called “primary production,” and it is the process upon which all living organisms are dependent. Primary producers or autotrophs form the base for the food chain, and they produce food for other organisms.

Primary producers include marine algae, land plants, and bacteria. They are involved in the processes of photosynthesis and chemosynthesis. Primary production may either be Gross Primary Productivity or Net Primary Productivity.

Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) is the rate of how an ecosystem’s producers or autotrophs collect and save a certain amount of chemical energy referred to as biomass at a specific time. Biomass energy can be used for chemical, thermal, and biochemical conversion. Part of this energy is utilized by the primary producers for conversion into nutrients and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and the release of waste products which is referred to as cellular respiration.

The excess or loss generated from this process is the Net Primary Productivity (NPP). It is the difference between how much useful chemical energy is produced by plants in the ecosystem in relation to how a portion of that energy is used for cellular respiration. NPP is used to assess the function of the ecosystem and the effects of climate change on it, to monitor the health of plants and changes in productivity over time, and to estimate the yield of a crop.

As long as the rate of biomass production surpasses that of what is needed for cellular respiration, plants will grow and propagate. Several factors can affect GPP and NPP such as climate, type of soil, and the availability of water and nutrients in the area where they are grown.

At present, the human burden on the ecosystem has raised questions of how it can sustain life in the future. In several areas of the world, land is so parched that no plant can survive, and the Earth’s climate has been greatly affected by climate change and by global warming which is in part caused by man.


1.“GPP” stands for “Gross Primary Productivity” while “NPP” stands for “Net Primary Productivity.”
2.GPP is the rate an ecosystem’s primary producers collect and save biomass in a specified time for chemical, thermal, and biochemical conversion while NPP is the rate of loss or excess that is generated by the process.
3.The biomass generated is used for the cellular respiration of plants which it converts into nutrients and ATP necessary for cell production. GPP is used for cell production while NPP is the difference between the GPP and cellular respiration.
4.The ideal setup is that biomass production should always be higher than what is needed for cellular respiration so that plants will grow.

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