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TOPIC OF THE DAY

Environment and Ecosystem

Functions of an Ecosystem

ENERGY FLOW- Energy is the basic force responsible for all metabolic activities. The flow of energy from producer to top consumers is called energy flow which is unidirectional. Energy flows through the trophic levels: from producers to subsequent trophic levels. There is a loss of some energy in the form of unusable heat at each trophic level.

The trophic level interaction involves three concepts namely:-

1. Food Chain

2. Food Web

3. Ecological Pyramids

FOOD CHAIN- A food chain starts with producers and ends with top carnivores. The sequence of eaten and being eaten produces a transfer of food energy and it is known as a food chain.

Grazing food chain-The consumers which start the food chain, utilising the plant or plant part as their food, constitute the grazing food chain. This food chain begins from green plants at the base and the primary consumer is a herbivore. For example, In a terrestrial ecosystem, the grass is eaten up by caterpillar, which is eaten by lizard and lizard is eaten by a snake. In Aquatic ecosystem phytoplanktons (primary producers) is eaten by zooplankton, which is eaten by fishes and fishes are eaten by pelicans

Detritus food chain- The food chain starts from dead organic matter of decaying animals and plant bodies to the micro-organisms and then to detritus feeding organism called detrivores or decomposer and to other predators.

FOOD WEB: A food web illustrates, all possible transfers of energy and nutrients among the organisms in an ecosystem, whereas a food chain traces only one pathway of the food.

ECOLOGICAL PYRAMIDS

The steps of trophic levels expressed in a diagrammatic way are referred to as ecological pyramids. The food producer forms the base of the pyramid and the top carnivore forms the tip. Other consumer trophic levels are in between. The pyramid consists of a number of horizontal bars depicting specific trophic levels which are arranged sequentially from primary producer level through herbivore, carnivore onwards. The length of each bar represents the total number of individuals at each trophic level in an ecosystem.

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