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The Ecosystem

- Structure and Function II

TROPHIC STRUCTURE The Th producers and consumers are arranged in the ecosystem in a d d d i th t i definite manner and their interaction along with population size are expressed together as trophic structure The flow of energy is mediated through a series of feeding relationships in a definite sequence or pattern which is known as food chain. Nutrients and energy too move along the food chain. Trophic Level/Feeding level Each food level is known as trophic level and the amount of living matter at each trophic le el at a given time is known as standing crop or level gi en kno n standing biomass.

FOOD CHAINS
i. The sequence of eating and being eaten in an ecosystem is known as food chain. ii. All organisms, living or dead, are potential food for some other organism g g p g and thus, there is essentially no waste in the functioning of a natural ecosystem. iii. Each organism in the ecosystem is assigned a feeding level or trophic level depending on its nutritional status.

I. Grazing food chain: Starts with green plants (primary producers) The cornivores and d i h i d detrivores f ll the order follow h d

II. Detritus food chain Starts with dead organic matter Detritivores and decomposers follow the order Even the detritivores are consumed by decomposers

FOOD WEB
Food chains in ecosystems are rarely found to operate as isolated y y p linear sequences. Usually interconnected and form a complex network with several linkages and are known as food webs. Definition: Food web is a network of food chains where different types of organisms are connected at different trophic levels, so that there are a number of options of eating and being eaten at each trophic level.

Significance of food chains and food webs


a. Energy flow and nutrient cycling b. Maintenance and regulation of population g p p size of different animals c. Maintenance of ecological balance d. Biological magnification

ECOLOGICAL PYRAMIDS
Graphic representation of trophic structure and function of an ecosystem, starting with producers at the base and successive trophic levels forming the apex is knows as an ecological pyramid. pyramid Ecological pyramids are of three types: A. Pyramid of numbers B. B Pyramid of biomass C. Pyramid of Energy

Pyramid of numbers
It represents the number of individual organisms at each trophic level Upright or inverted pyramid , depending upon the type of ecosystem

Fig: Grass land ecosystem g y

Fig: Forest ecosystem g y

Pyramid of biomass
Represents the total biomass (dry matter) at each trophic level in a food chain Upright or inverted pyramid , depending upon the type of ecosystem

Forest Ecosystem

Pond Ecosystem

Pyramid of Energy
Represents the amount of energy present at each trophic Always upright At every successive trophic level, there is a huge loss of energy (about 90%) y p , g gy ( ) Energy loss in the form of heat, respiration etc.

ENERGY FLOW IN AN ECOSYSTEM


Flow of energy takes place through the food chain The energy flow is always unidirectional The flow of energy follows the two laws of Thermodynamics: gy y energy can neither be created nor be destroyed but it can be transformed from one form to another. energy dissipates as it is used or in other words, its gets converted from a more concentrated to dispersed form. As energy flows through the food chain, energy dissipates at every trophic level The loss of energy takes place through respiration, loss of energy in locomotion, running, hunting and other activities. At A every l l there is about 90% loss of energy and the energy level h i b l f d h transferred from one trophic level to the other is only about 10%.

Productivity of Ecosystem
PRIMARY PRODUCTION Primary productivity : The rate at which radiant energy is converted into organic substances by photosynthesis or chemo-synthesis by the primary chemo synthesis producers. () (i) Gross primary p p y productivity y It refers to the total rate of photosynthesis including the organic matter used up in respiration, i.e., amount of CO2 fixed/g chl/hour. (ii) Net primary productivity NPP = GPP R

It is the rate of storage of organic matter in plant tissues in excess of the respiratory utilization by plants. SECONDARY PRODUCTION The amount of organic matter stored by the herbivores or carnivores (in excess of respiratory loss) is known as secondary production.

BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES

Water Cycle

Oxygen Cycle

Nitrogen cycle

Carbon Cycle

Phosphorus cycle

Sulphur cycle