The rate of photosynthesis increases with rising temperature up to a maximum, but then diminishes sharply with further rise of temperature. Different species are suited to different ranges of temperature, and photosynthesis is probably performed as efficiently in cold water by the phytoplankton of high latitudes as it is in warmer water by the phytoplankton native to the tropics.

Seasonal variations of production rate in temperate latitudes are related to changes of both temperature and illumination. Apart from its direct effect on rate of photosynthesis, temperature also influences production indirectly through its effects on movement and mixing of the water, and hence on the supply of nutrients to the euphotic levels.

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