Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between NPP and GPP


Primary production, in short, is the study of plant growth in ecosystems that forms the base or primary factors in the food web and how they produce food for other organisms. The term is also involved in ecological efficiency which describes the transfer of energy from a trophic level to the next. Ecological efficiency is based on factors that are related to resource acquisition and assimilation of organisms in the ecosystem. Primary production also covers the processing and production of organic components from the atmospheric or aquatic carbon dioxide. The processes of photosynthesis and chemosynthesis are also notable in primary production.

The main source of energy in the production of chemical energy in organic compounds comes from the sunlight, but a small portion of it comes from the inorganic molecules of lithotrophic organisms. This energy is converted, mainly by plants and algae, to synthesize complex organic molecules into simpler, organic compounds like water. Simple molecules can also be synthesized to make more complicated as well, like proteins, and can be respired to perform work. Consumption of the primary producers by heterotrophic organisms, such as humans and bacteria, transfers both the energy they have gathered from them as well as the organic molecules up to the food web contributing to the Earth’s living systems. To measure these factors, gross primary production and net primary production are used.

Gross primary production, or GPP, is the estimation at which the producers in an ecosystem absorb a specific amount of chemical energy as biomass in a given span of time. Biomass is defined as the mass of organisms per unit area and is usually expressed in units of energy or dry organic matter. It is a renewable energy source that can be used for thermal, chemical, and biochemical conversion for useful energy. Some of this fixed energy is used for the primary production’s cellular respiration and maintenance of existing tissues. The measurement is not limited to the partial organisms but also to other ecological units such as population and entire communities.

Net primary production, also known as NPP, is the measurement of the producer’s growth obtained by the quantity of carbon absorbed and stored by vegetation. To get NPP, you subtract the respiration of the organism from the GPP.

In global terms, patterns of primary production can vary both spatially and temporally depending on the conditions of the ecosystem. Those with lesser productive ecosystems are those with extreme conditions. Places like a polar tundra limits the heat energy that can be obtained by the producers, and deserts which limit water are also examples of these conditions. The most productive ecosystems have high a temperature and adequate water and soil nitrogen. Tropical forests are an example of a more productive ecosystem for producers.


1.Primary production is the study of organisms, mostly plants, and how they provide the supplements to other organisms.
2.There are two measurements used to view the contributions of primary producers to the Earth’s living systems. They are called gross primary production and net primary production.
3.Gross primary production is the rate at which the producers in an ecosystem capture and store a given amount of chemical energy as biomass in a given span of time while net primary production is the measurement rate of primary producers in an ecosystem to produce net useful chemical energy.
4.Primary production can be affected by the productivity of the ecosystem.

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