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Productivity is the growth rate of the organisms living in an ecosystem. It determines how fast we can use an ecosystem’s resources. When we take them faster than they are produced, the ecosystem loses biomass, diversity and productivity. We can maintain sustainable ecosystems by balancing the rate we take resources with the rate they are made.
The basic level of productivity is influenced by two main factors:
Most organisms gain the energy they need to live from the sun. Solar energy is either gained directly by photosynthesis or indirectly by eating other organisms.
The productivity of an ecosystem depends on the abundance of these resources (as well as the diversity and abundance of primary producers). The lack of any one of these factors limits productivity.
Efficient nutrient recycling can help overcome low nutrient levels in an ecosystem. Water, carbon and the other nutrients required for photosynthesis cycle through an ecosystem. A diverse ecosystem is able to recycle these nutrients more efficiently making them available for photosynthesis faster increasing productivity.
Diversity influences productivity by:
Sustainable use of an ecosystem relies on not using resources faster than they are made. Productivity relies on the diversity of the ecosystem to ensure efficient cycling of resources, and loss of diversity lowers ecosystem productivity. Unsustainable use of resources feeds back on itself and the ecosystem loses productivity, and less can be taken from the ecosystem in the long term.
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