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Explain the energy flow in a food chain.

▪       Energy enters most communities as light, where it is absorbed by autotrophs (e.g. plants) and converted into chemical energy via photosynthesis

▪       Energy then gets passed to the primary consumer (herbivore) when they eat the plant, and then gets passed to successive consumers (carnivores) as they are eaten in turn

▪       Energy is lost between trophic levels in the form of heat through cell respiration, faeces, tissue loss and death.

▪       Some of this lost energy is used by detritivores and saprotrophs. These in turn also lose energy in the form of heat through cell respiration. 

 

à Only ~10% of energy is passed from one trophic level to the next, the rest is lost.  

Because ~90% of energy is lost between trophic levels, the number of trophic levels are limited as energy flow is reduced at higher levels

Zana Katarina L. IB Biology tutor, IB Maths tutor, IB Psychology tutor

2 years ago

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