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Area IIB: The Living World Energy Flow

Ecosystem Components Ecosystems are composed of two main components

abiotic factors include all of the non-living components biotic factors include all of the biological components of the ecosystem

autotrophs (or producers) require only inorganic nutrients and an external energy source to produce food organic nutrients photoautotrophs use light for energy chemoautotrophs use chemicals for energy 6CO2 + 6H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2

Ecosystem Components

biotic factors, continued

heterotrophs (or consumers) require a source of organic nutrients C6H12O6 + 6O2 6CO2 + 6H2O herbivores are animals that eat plants carnivores feed on other animals omnivores eat plants or animals detritivores convert waste into food decomposers (mostly bacteria and fungi) recycle organic matter by breaking down dead organic material detritus feeders primarily eat detritus (decomposing organic matter) (termites, many beetles, etc.)

Fig. 4-16 The work of detritivores

Detritus feeders Decomposers

Bark beetle engraving Long-horned beetle holes

Carpenter ant galleries

Termite and carpenter ant work Dry rot fungus

Wood reduced to powder


Time progression

Powder broken down by decomposers into plant nutrients in soil

Ecosystem Components Energy flows through the populations of an ecosystem, while chemicals cycle within and between ecosystems

life is sustained by the sun, chemical cycles, and gravity

matter is cycled through the biosphere to be reused gravity holds the atmosphere and causes downward movement of matter

Ecosystem Components

sustenance of life, continued

sunlight: there is one-way flow of high-quality energy from the sun which eventually becomes lowquality energy and dissipated into space as heat lights and warms the planet drives winds, ocean currents, and precipitation powers cycling of matter the amount of energy reaching the Earth through sunlight equals the amount of energy radiated by the Earth energy in = energy out

Fig. 4-8 Sustenence of life on Earth

Carbon Phosphorus Nitrogen cycle cycle cycle

Water cycle

Oxygen cycle

Heat in the environment




Ecosystem Components

sustenance of life, continued

sunlight, continued 34% of energy from the sun is reflected by the atmosphere 66% makes it into atmosphere of the energy that gets through: 80% warms the troposphere and evaporates and cycles water 1% generates winds 0.1% is used by plants, algae, and bacteria for photosynthesis

Fig. 4-9 Flow of energy to, from Earth

Solar radiation

Energy in = Energy out Reflected by atmosphere (34%) Radiated by atmosphere as heat (66%) Lower stratosphere Visible (ozone layer) Greenhouse light Troposphere effect Heat Heat radiated by the earth

UV radiation

Absorbed by ozone

Absorbed by the earth


Ecosystem Components

sustenance of life, continued

sunlight, continued the greenhouse effect helps Earth retain heat infrared light is absorbed and re-radiated by greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone) this causes the air to warm

Nature of an ecosystem

Fig. 4-15 Feeding relationships

Soil and water nutrients Break down organic matter for recycling Decomposers (bacteria, fungi)

Producers (plants and phytoplankton)

Consumers Feeding on Dead Organisms or the Organic Wastes of Living Organisms

Consumers Feeding on Living Organisms

Scavengers (vultures, hyenas)

Detritus Feeders (crabs, termites)

Primary Consumers Feeding on Producers (rabbits, zooplankton)

Secondary & Higher Consumers Feeding on Other Consumers (foxes, turtles, hawks)

Fig. 4-17 Energy, chemicals, organisms

Abiotic chemicals (carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, minerals)



Solar energy


Decomposers (bacteria, fungus)

Producers (plants)


Consumers (herbivores, carnivores)


Matter cycling in ecosystems

Matter cycling in ecosystems

Energy and Nutrient Flow

Energy Flow in Ecosystems Food chains and food webs show how energy moves in an ecosystem

food chain: pathway (through a sequence of organisms) along which food and energy are transferred from level to level

arrows show direction of energy transfer

food web: complex network of interconnected food chains trophic level: feeding level of an organism in a food chain

Energy Flow in Ecosystems

trophic levels, continued

first, some basic ecosystem processes: 1. production: rate of incorporation of energy and materials into the bodies of organisms 2. consumption: metabolic use of organic materials 3. decomposition: breakdown of organic materials into inorganic ones usable by autotrophs carried out by prokaryotes and fungi links all trophic levels

Energy Flow in Ecosystems

trophic levels, continued

primary producers: use photosynthesis to produce sugars and organic compounds; support all other trophic levels primary consumers: herbivores (eat plants or algae) secondary consumers: carnivores that eat herbivores tertiary consumers, etc.: carnivores that eat other carnivores

Example foodchains

Fig. 4-18 Food chain

First Trophic Level Second Trophic Level Third Trophic Level Fourth Trophic Level

Producers (plants) Heat Heat

Primary consumers (herbivores) Heat

Secondary consumers (carnivores)

Tertiary consumers (top carnivores) Heat

Solar energy

Heat Heat Heat Heat

Detritivores (decomposers and detritus feeders)


A marine food web

Fig. 4-19 Antarctic food web

Humans Blue whale Sperm whale Killer whale Crabeater seal

Elephant seal

Leopard seal

Emperor penguin Adlie penguins Petrel

Squid Fish Carnivorous plankton

Herbivorous zooplankton Krill Phytoplankton

Energy Flow in Ecosystems Pyramids are used to represent energy available to each trophic level

biomass: dry weight of all organic matter contained in organisms

you eat biomass, and you contain biomass

energy transfer through biomass is inefficient

percent usable energy from one trophic level is called ecological efficiency ranges from 2% to 40% (usually 10%) explains why top carnivores are few

Fig. 4-20 Pyramid of energy flow


Tertiary consumers (human)

Heat Decomposers

Heat 10 Secondary consumers (perch) Heat



Primary consumers (zooplankton)


10,000 Producers Usable energy (phytoplankton) available at each tropic level (in kilocalories)

Fig. 4-21 Annual energy flow

Top carnivores 21 Carnivores 383 Herbivores 3,368 Producers 20,810



Pyramid of Net Productivity

Pyramid of Numbers

Pyramid of Standing Crop Biomass

Pyramid of Standing Crop Biomass

Energy Flow in Ecosystems Producers produce biomass at different rates in different ecosystems
energy budget depends on primary productivity primary productivity: amount of light energy converted to chemical energy by autotrophs in a given time period

can be measured as biomass added/area/time (g/m2/yr)

Energy Flow in Ecosystems

primary productivity, continued

gross primary productivity (GPP) is total production of chemical energy produced by autotrophs producers use some of the biomass they produce to stay alive, grow, etc., so not all of it is available to higher trophic levels the amount available to higher levels is called net primary productivity (NPP) NPP = GPP R (where R means respiration: plants own energy needs)

Fig. 4-23 GPP vs. NPP


Respiration Gross primary production

Energy lost & unavailable to consumers

Net primary production Growth and reproduction (energy available to consumers)

Fig. 4-24 NPP by zone

Terrestrial Ecosystems
Swamps and marshes Tropical rain forest Temperate forest Northern coniferous forest (taiga) Savanna Agricultural land Woodland and shrubland Temperate grassland Tundra (arctic and alpine) Desert scrub Extreme desert

Aquatic Ecosystems
Estuaries Lakes and streams Continental shelf Open ocean

800 1,600 2,400 3,200 4,000 4,800 5,600 6,400 7,200 8,000 8,800 9,600

Average net primary productivity (kcal/m2/yr)

Productivity of Ecosystems

Energy Flow in Ecosystems

primary productivity, continued

most productive communities (per unit area) algae beds and reefs, swamps/marshes tropical forests estuaries least productive communities (per unit area) desert alpine/tundra open ocean

Energy Flow in Ecosystems NPP limits the number of consumers on the planet
only the biomass represented by NPP is available as food to consumers, and producers are limited in how fast they can produce biomass Are humans using biomass faster than it can be regenerated? If yes, bad things will probably happen. think sustainability

4-3 Ecosystem Components Biodiversity is a renewable resource found in the Earths variety of genes, species, ecosystems, and ecosystem processes
genetic diversity: variety of genetic material within a species or population species diversity: number of different species in different habitats ecological: variety of ecosystems in area functional: biological and chemical processes needed for survival

Fig. 4-11 Freshwater ecosystem


Producers (rooted plants) Producers (phytoplankton) Primary consumers (zooplankton) Secondary consumers (fish)

Dissolved chemicals Sediment

Tertiary consumers (turtles)

Decomposers (bacteria and fungi)

Fig. 7-8
Herring gulls Snowy egret Cordgrass Peregrine falcon

Producer to primary consumer

Short-billed dowitcher

Primary to secondary consumer

Marsh periwinkle


Secondary to higher-level consumer Smelt

Zooplankton and small crustaceans

Soft-shelled clam Clamworm Bacteria

All producers and consumers to decomposers

Fig. 7-12 Reef trophic levels

Gray reef shark Green sea turtle Sea nettle

Producer to primary consumer

Parrot fish Hard corals Alga e

Fairy basslet Blue tangs Brittle star Sergeant major Banded

Primary to secondary consumer

coral shrimp

Phytoplankt on Symbiotic algae Zooplank ton Sponge s Blackc ap basslet

Con ey

Secondary to higher-level consumer

Mor ay eel

All consumers and producers to decomposers


Fig. 4-12 Terrestrial ecosystem

Oxygen (O2)


Producer Carbon dioxide (CO2) Secondary consumer (fox) Primary consumer (rabbit) Producers Precipitation Falling leaves and twigs Soil decomposers


Fig. 6-20 Temperate desert ecosystem

Red-tailed hawk Gambel's quail

Producer to primary consumer

Yucca Jack Collared rabbit lizard Agave

Primary to secondary consumer

Prickly pear cactus Roadrunner Diamondback rattlesnake Darkling beetle

Secondary to higher-level consumer

Bacteria Bacteria

All producers and consumers to decomposers

Kangaroo rat

Fig. 6-24 Tall-grass prairie ecosystem

Golden eagle Pronghorn antelope

Producer to primary consumer


Grasshopper sparrow

Primary to secondary consumer


Secondary to higher-level consumer

Blue stem grass

Prairie dog Bacteria

All producers and consumers to decomposers

Fungi Prairie coneflower

Fig. 6-26 Arctic tundra ecosystem

Long-tailed jaeger Grizzly bear Caribou

Producer to primary consumer

Mosquito Horned lark Arctic fox

Primary to secondary consumer Snowy owl Secondary to higher-level consumer

Willow ptarmigan

Dwarf willow Dwarf

Lemming Mountain cranberry Mountain

All consumers and producers to decomposers

Moss campion Moss campion

Fig. 6-29 Tropical rain forest ecosystem

Blue and gold macaw Harpy eagle

Producer to primary consumer

Squirrel monkeys Climbing monstera palm Slaty-tailed trogon

Primary to secondary consumer


Green tree snake

Tree frog

Secondary to higher-level consumer

Ants Bromeliad Fungi Bacteria

All producers and consumers to decomposers

Fig. 6-31 Temperate deciduous forest

Broad-winged hawk Hairy woodpecker Producer to primary consumer

Gray squirrel White oak White-tailed deer White-footed mouse Metallic woodboring beetle wood-boring and larvae beetle and Mountain winterberry

Primary to secondary consumer

Secondary to higher-level consumer

Shagbark hickory

All producers and consumers to decomposers


May beetle Racer Fungi Long-tailed weasel Wood frog

Fig. 6-32 Taiga forest ecosystem

Blue jay Great horne horned d owl owl Producer to primary consumer

Balsam fir


Primary to secondary consumer


White spruce

Wolf Bebb willow Pine sawyer beetle and larvae

Secondary to higher-level consumer

Snowshoe hare Fungi Starflower Bacteria

All producers and consumers to decomposers


many types of poisons in environment some stored in fatty tissue: DDT get concentrated in upper trophic levels of concern to humans since we are in an upper trophic level