What Are Primary Producers?

By Nick Callos
Plants make their own food through photosynthesis.
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Have you ever wondered what it is exactly that makes the world tick? Well, it is primary producers, which synthesize and produce the energy for the entire ecosystem. These organisms produce oxygen, too. Primary producers get energy from nonliving sources. This energy is then maintained within the earth's atmosphere by organisms that eat the primary producers that hold this energy.

Examples

Primary producers are organisms take energy from abiotic, or non-living, sources and turn it into usable energy. There are many types of primary producers within the earth's ecosystem. Plants such as trees and algae use energy from the sun and dispense it into the air and to other organisms. Kelp, which is brown algae, and coral are two dominant primary producers. Others include protists, such as the asexual Euglena micro-organism, and phytoplankton, a main primary producer in the ocean food web. Some forms of bacteria at the sea floor's hot springs and cold vents possess the ability to produce energy through the use of inorganic molecules.

Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is one way primary producers capture and disperse energy. The primary producers performing this task are plants, coral, bacteria and algae. Photosynthetic bacteria, such as those existing in soil cultures, are a relatively new discovery. As energy comes from the sun, plants absorb that energy and convert it into usable energy. Primary consumers, such as herbivores, then eat the plants that contain this energy. Carnivores then eat the herbivores, and other animals, such as vultures, eat the feces and dead animal bodies. Hence, primary producers begin the energy cycle of our earth.

Chemosynthesis

The primary producers for chemosynthesis are bacteria at the bottom of the ocean floor. This process is performed in extremely hot conditions and under intense pressure in what is know as a hydrothermal vent. Chemosynthetic communities also exist in extremely cold vents. Other sea floor locations include where dead whale carcasses and ships have settled. Because no direct sunlight reaches deep within the ocean, bacterial organisms there form organic energy from inorganic molecules. These bacteria, known as chemo-autotrophic organisms, turn carbon dioxide, water, hydrogen sulfide and oxygen into carbohydrates and sulphuric acid. The carbohydrates are energy. Hence, primary producers provide energy and life not only within the sunlight's range, but also in the deep, dark sea. This process can also occur on land near hot springs.

Importance

Without organisms capable of producing energy, there would be no way for the earth to sustain itself. Plants and other primary producers produce the energy that we consume and dispense the oxygen that we breathe. This process is essential for continuation of life on earth. Some say that the first organisms on earth were bacteria primary producers of the ocean floor. If this is true, then life on earth could have never existed without them.

About the Author

Nick Callos has been a writer and researcher for over six years, previously working for his school newspaper and now as an online contributor. Callos graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and obtained minors in history, philosophy and Chinese.