Biomass (ecology)  

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"If you took all the people in the world and put them on a large set of scales, their combined mass would be about 300 million tons. If you then took all our domesticated farm animals—cows, pigs, sheep and chickens—and placed them on an even larger set of scales, their mass would amount to about 700 million tons. In contrast, the combined mass of all surviving large wild animals — from porcupines and penguins to elephants and whales—is less than 100 million tons." --Yuval Noah Harari, cited in [1] see Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The biomass is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. It can include microorganisms, plants or animals. The mass can be expressed as the average mass per unit area, or as the total mass in the community.

How biomass is measured depends on why it is being measured. Sometimes, the biomass is regarded as the natural mass of organisms in situ, just as they are. For example, in a salmon fishery, the salmon biomass might be regarded as the total wet weight the salmon would have if they were taken out of the water. In other contexts, biomass can be measured in terms of the dried organic mass, so perhaps only 30% of the actual weight might count, the rest being water. For other purposes, only biological tissues count, and teeth, bones and shells are excluded. In some applications, biomass is measured as the mass of organically bound carbon (C) that is present.

The total live biomass on Earth is about 550 - 560 billion tonnes C, and the total annual primary production of biomass is just over 100 billion tonnes C/yr. The total live biomass of bacteria may be as much as that of plants and animals or may be much less. The total number of DNA base pairs on Earth, as a possible approximation of global biodiversity, is estimated at (5.3±3.6) x 1037, and weighs 50 billion tonnes.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Biomass (ecology)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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