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Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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Primary production and respiration are core functions of river ecosystems that in part determine the carbon balance. Gross primary production (GPP) is the total rate of carbon fixation by autotrophs such as algae and higher plants and is equivalent to photosynthesis. Ecosystem respiration (ER) measures rate at which organic carbon is mineralized to CO2 by all organisms in an ecosystem. Together these fluxes can indicate the base of the food web to support animal production (Marcarelli et al. 2011), can predict the cycling of other elements (Hall and Tank 2003), and can link ecosystems to global carbon cycling (Cole et al. 2007).