Energy flow in an ecosystem
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Energy Flow in an Ecosystem. Biomass. The total mass of living plants, animals, fungi and bacteria in a given area. Organisms have special roles, or niches, in the ecosystem in which they live. Within its niche, every organism interacts with that ecosystem in two ways:

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  • The total mass of living plants, animals, fungi and bacteria in a given area

Energy flow in an ecosystem

Food webs
Food Webs which they live.

Herbivores – eats plants

Carnivores – eats animals

Omnivores – eats plant and animals

Insectivore – eats insects

Top predator

Top predator


all animals + fungi + some bacteria


all plants + some bacteria

What happens when organisms die
What happens when organisms die? which they live.

When organisms die, they become detrius

  • DETRIUS is all the dead plants, dead animals, and animal waste

  • Detrius – contains organic (carbon containing) and inorganic compounds

Detrivores which they live.

  • Detrivores – organisms like snails, beetles, and earthworms that EAT detrius.

    • This helps decomposition because it increases the surface area of detrius

Decomposers which they live.

  • Decomposers – organisms like Bacteria and Fungi break detrius into smaller molecules (nutrients) that can be absorbed by other organisms

    • Nutrients are recycled back into ecosystem

Biodegradation which they live.

  • Biodegradation – if something is biodegradable then it can be decomposed by Bacteria and Fungi

    • Example: many plastics are non-biodegradable (cannot be broken down by decomposers)

Food chains
Food Chains web

  • A food chain shows the flow of energy from producers to consumers

  • Trophic level (aka: feeding level) is the position the organism occupies in the food chain

  • Each trophic level helps ID the organism’s niche or role in the ecosystem

Trophic levels
Trophic Levels web


  • Primary Producer

  • Primary Consumer

  • Secondary Consumer

  • Tertiary Consumer


  • Plants

  • Herbior omnivores

  • Omni or carnivores

  • Omni or carnivores

Ferns  Crickets  Snakes  Eagles

Energy flow
Energy Flow web

  • Plants use energy to produce carbohydrates (+ other organic molecules) in a process called photosynthesis

Energy flow1
Energy Flow web

  • These carbohydrates (sugars) are used as energy by plants as well as consumers that eat plants

Energy flow2
Energy Flow web

  • All consumers store excess energy as glycogen (carbohydrate), fat, and protein

    • Omnivores and carnivores can get their energy by eating other consumers (animals)

Energy flow3
Energy Flow web

  • Most organisms on the Earth get their energy either directly or indirectly from the sun

Ecological pyramids1
Ecological Pyramids web

  • Pyramid of energy – the 90%/10% rule

    • Only 10% of the available energy is transferred from one trophic level to the next

    • 90% of the energy an organism takes in is used for growth and repair or lost as heat

Ecological pyramids2
Ecological Pyramids web

  • 90%/10% rule is why many food chains have a maximum of 5 trophic level

Energy flow in an ecosystem

Owner web

Spent on Food


Spent on Food


Spent on Food


Spent on Food

Ecological pyramids example
Ecological Pyramids - Example web

  • Wolf eats a deer but does not consume all deer parts + some of the food eaten is eliminated as waste

  • Therefore, the wolf only gets a portion of the available energy from the deer

  • The energy the wolf does get is used to keep the wolf alive, to maintain its body temperature, and some energy is lost as heat

Pyramid of biomass and numbers1
Pyramid of Biomass and Numbers web

  • As you move up the food chain there are fewer organisms.

    • Because energy is lost at each trophic level

    • Less energy available at each level means that fewer individuals can be supported

Pyramid of biomass and numbers2
Pyramid of Biomass and Numbers web

  • As you move up the food chain there is less biomass

    • Total mass of all organisms at the trophic level drops the higher up the food chain you go