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Energy Transfer in the Ecosystem | Laws

Grade 5
Aug 19, 2022

Energy flow in the ecosystem: 

The cycle of energy is based on the flow of energy through different trophic levels in an ecosystem. Energy is used and conveyed from one trophic level to another in a food chain. This is called the flow of energy. 

The sun is the ultimate source of energy for any ecosystem. Green plants capture about 1% of the solar energy incident on the earth through the biochemical process of photosynthesis and convert it into food. 

1.When plants are eaten up by herbivores, the chemical energy(food) stored in the plants is transferred to these animals. 2. These animals (herbivores) utilize some of this energy for metabolic activities, and the remaining energy is stored. The process of energy transfer is similarly repeated with carnivores and so on. 3  . The transfer of energy in a food chain is always unidirectional, i.e. from producers to consumers. 4. There is a gradual decrease in the amount of energy transfer from one trophic level to the next trophic level in a food chain. 

Ten percent law: Ten percent law states that only 10 percent of the energy entering a particular trophic level of organisms is available for transfer to the next higher trophic level. This law was proposed by Lindeman. 

Laws of thermodynamics: 

Energy transfers within food webs are governed by the first and second laws of thermodynamics


The first law relates to quantities of energy. It states that energy can be transformed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. This law suggests that all energy transfers, gains, and losses within a food web can be accounted for in an energy budget. 

The second law relates to the quality of energy. This law states that whenever energy is transformed, some of it must be degraded into a less useful form. The second law explains energy transfers are never 100% efficient. On average, ecological efficiency is only about 10%. 

Ecological pyramid: 

A graphical representation in the shape of a pyramid to show the feeding relationship of groups of organisms and the flow of energy or biomass through the different trophic levels in a given ecosystem is known as an ecological pyramid. 

  • The pyramid consists of a number of horizontal bars depicting specific trophic levels. The length of each bar represents the total number of individuals or biomass or energy at each trophic level in an ecosystem. 
  • The food producer forms the base of the pyramid, and the top carnivore forms the tip. Other consumer trophic levels are in between. 
  • The number, biomass, and energy of organisms gradually decrease with each step from the producer level to consumer level, and the diagrammatic representation takes a pyramid shape. 
  • The ecological pyramids are of three categories: 
  1. Pyramid of numbers 
  1. Pyramid of biomass 
  1. Pyramid of energy or productivity 

Pyramid of energy: 

An energy pyramid represents the amount of energy at each trophic level and the loss of energy at each transfer to another trophic level. The pyramid of energy is an upright pyramid that illustrates the flow of energy from producers to consumers. 

Significance of ecological pyramid: 

  • It shows the feeding of different organisms in different ecosystems.  
  • It shows the efficiency of energy transfer.  
  • The condition of the ecosystem can be monitored, and any further damage can be prevented. 




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