US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District Website Website

Process overview: primary production

Primary production diagramPrimary production is a measure of the rate of organic matter generation by photosynthesis, providing the base level of energy input to the food web.


The figure at right is a systems diagram of estuarine processes based on primary production (modified from McIntire et al. 1983).


Structures that affect primary production:

  • Plankton
  • Scrub-shrub forest
  • Emergent marsh
  • Mud / sand flats
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation 

Ecosystem functions that are affected by primary production:

  • Biodiversity maintenance
  • Salmonid production
  • Other fish production
  • Water quality maintenance 

Interactions and equations:

Contact information

Ronald Thom, Ph.D

Marine Research Operations, PNNL
1529 W. Sequim Bay Rd.
Sequim, WA 98382