Ecosystems and Energy Flow

*Producer: An autotroph, makes up the first trophic level of an ecosystem. Supports all
other levels. Usually a phosynthetic organism.
*Hetertroph: An organism that obtains organic food molecules by eating other organisms
or their by products.
*Herbivore: A heterotrophic animal that eats plants
*Carnivore: A heterotrophic animal that eats other animals
*Omnivore: A heterotrophic animal that consumes both plant and animal material
*Detritivore: A consumer that derives its energy from non-living organic matter
*Decomposer: Fungi and bacteria that absord nutrients from non-living organic material
*Trophic Levels: Any of the several levels of a food chain, whose species are based on
their main nutritional source
*Energy Pyramid: At each link in the food chain, energy that was originally stored by
the autotrophic plants is dissipated along the food chain
* Determine the flow in which energy of the
meal travels (from the sun to the student).
* The flow of energy from one organism to
* A food web
* A food web is many interconnecting food
chains, representing the fact that most
organisms eat more than one thing
* Because the arrow shows the transfer of
energy. The animal that is being eaten
transfers some energy to the animal that eats
* Idea that energy flux through the food chain
decreases at progressively higher trophic levels
* Less energy reaches each successively higher
trophic level
* Energy is lost at each level because of the work
performed by organisms at that level and because
of the inefficiency of biological energy
* Plants gather only a portion of light energy available
from the sun, that energy is not available to
herbivores as plant biomass
* Producers
* Primary Production provides
energy to the ecosystem
* Primary production varies among
*An autotroph is an organism that
manufactures its own food from inorganic
substances, like carbon dioxide and ammonia
* Most autotrophs use light for energy through
*Plants and other autotrophic organisms
occupy the bottom trophic level
* Organisms that obtain energy from the
consumption of organic compounds by other
organisms are heterotrophs
* Heterotrophs can be herbivors, carnivors,
detritivores, omnivores
* Consumers of primary producers, herbivores,
are called primary consumers
* All organisms are either consumed or end up as
* Secondary consumers are carnivores, consume
primary consumers
* Omnivores feed on more than one trophic level
* Detritivores are organisms specialized to attack wood,
leaf litter, and fibrous unabsorbed plant material
* Detritus are the dead remains of plants and indifestible
excreta of herbivores
* Detritivores are important in the recycling of nutrients
w/in ecosystems
* Decomposers remove the last energy from the
remains of organisms
* Decomposers, fungi and bacteria, decompose
the dead members of lower trophic levels, thus
returning essential elements, such as nitrogen
and phosphorus, to the ecosystem
* Primary recyclers of the ecosystem
* Microorganisms help recycle nutrients from
dead/decaying matter into living organisms
* Does energy accumulate in an ecosystem?
* Does a top predator have all the energy?
* Do producers receive their energy through the
absorption of nutrients?
* Is a species high on the food web a predator to
everything below?

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