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ENERGY FLOW IN AN ECOSYSTEM

  1. In an ecosystem, there is transfer or flow of energy from one trophic level to the other in succession.
  2. A trophic level can be defined as the number of links by which it is separated from the producer.
  3. The pattern of eating and being eaten up forms a liner chain which is called as a Food Chain. It can always be traced back to the producers i.e. Green plants.
  4. The producers trap radiant energy from the sun and convert it into chemical or potential energy of organic compounds such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
  5. When a herbivore eats a plant (or when bacteria decompose it),  the organic compounds are oxidized to release energy.
  6. The energy released is equivalent to the amount of energy used in synthesizing the substances. This is the first law of thermodynamics.
  7. However, some of the energy is not useful and lost as heat. This is the second law of thermodynamics.
  8. If this animal, is eaten by another one, along with transfer of energy from herbivore to carnivore a further decrease in useful energy occurs as the carnivore oxidizes the organic substances in the herbivore to synthesize its own cell constituents.
  9. Such transfer of energy from one organism to another sustains the ecosystem.
  10. The number of steps in a food chain are limited to four or five, since the energy available at each step decreases.
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