Biology - B1.5 - Energy In Biomass

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B1.5.1 - Pyramids of Biomass

  • Biomass - mass of living material in plants and animals
  • Pyramid of biomass - represents mass of organisms, and can be more accurate than a pyramid of numbers - many insects may feed on one bush, but the bushes mass is more than all the insects masses
  • Green plants transfer solar (light) energy to a chemical energy which is passed through the food chain
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B1.5.2 - Energy Transfers

  • Energy is wasted in the food chain, so not all the energy taken in is used for growth
  • Not all food can be digested, so is stored in faeces and urea (waste materials)
  • Some biomass is used for respiration, releasing energy in the process, which includes movement so if something moves a lot, it uses less energy to grow
  • Animals need to keep at a constant temperature, so some energy is used for this
  • Much of the energy released in respiration is eventually transferred to the surroundings
  • Sankey diagrams are used to represent the energy intake and use or transfer in animals
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B1.5.3 - Decay Processes

  • All organisms take up nutrients, which they eventually release, as they would otherwise run out
  • Detritus feeders start the decay process, by eating dead organisms and producing waste material, then decay organisms break down the waste or the dead organism
  • Decay organisms are microorganisms called decomposers
  • Decay is faster if it's warm and wet and many decomposers also need oxygen
  • All of the materials from the waste and dead organisms is recycled, returning nutrients to the soil
  • Sewage treatment plants and composts heaps are used by humans to recycle waste
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B1.5.4 - The Carbon Cycle

  • Recycling carbon involves photosynthesis and respiration
  • Photosynethesis takes CO2 from the atmosphere
  • Animals and green plants respire, returning CO2 to the atmosphere
  • When trees are cut down and burnt, CO2 is released back to the atmosphere
  • Animals eat green plants, which builds up carbon in their bodies, and when they die or produce waste, microorganisms release CO2 back into the atmosphere through respiration
  • A stable community recycles all the nutrients it takes up
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B1.5.5 - Recycling Organic Waste

  • Waste vegetables, peelings, grass cuttings and clippings from trees contain organic waste that can be recycled
  • It can be composted in many ways, the most efficient allow the waste to mix with oxygen and moisture, letting energy escape by heating surroundings - adding worms and layers of garden soil can speed the process up
  • Councils also collect garden waste, using shredders and large bins to compost material
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