Biomass, Foodchains, Decay and the Carbon Cycle

by observing the numbers and sizes of the organisms in food chains we can find out what happens to energy and biomass as it passes along the food chain.

trees shed their leaves and animals produce faeces. all organisms die. microorganisms take an important pard in decomposing this material so that it can be used again by plants. the same material is recycled over and over again and can lead to stable communities

  • Created by: Harri
  • Created on: 09-06-11 14:00

Pyramid of Numbers


an example:


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Pyramid of Biomass

( pyramid of numbers shows how many of each organism there are, but the pyramid of biomass shows the total mass of all of the organisms in the pyramid. pyramids of biomass always get small as they go up because the mass always gets smaller. energy cant be made from nowhere, and some will be wasted to the mass has to go down

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Energy from the Sun

  • 1,000,000kJ from the sun falls onto the grass
  • 20,000kJ taken up by the grass
  • 980,000kJ reflected by the grass
  • 2,000kJ transfered from the grass to the bullock
  • 2,000kJ used by the grass in respiration
  • 16,000kJ transferred to other herbivors and decomposers
  • 700kJ used by the bullock in respiration to make other forms of energy, e.g. kinetic, heat
  • 200kJ used to make new tissue in the bullock
  • 1,100kJ lost as faeces, etc. from the bullock

(a bullock is a baby male cow)

energy loses are due to, excretion, movement and heat genergation. respiration is the breakdown of food to release energy

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Sankey Diagrams for Animals


a herbivore starts with the most energy. they loose more energy in faeces than secondary consumers because they recieve a larger amound of energy, yet only need to use about the same amount as the consumer which recieves less.

and endotherm is a warm blooded animal and an exotherm is a cold blooded animal.

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in the natural environment dead matter decays, when micro-organisms and detritus feed on the dead matter, they recycle carbon and nitrogen.

things decay quicker when: its wet because the organisms need water to survive. when its hot because the organisms can reproduce faster. when there is lots of oxygen because the organisms need oxygen to survive.

sugar molecules contain carbon and are made by plants and algae. sugar is used in animals to make carbohydrates, fats, proteins and DNA.

all of the energy that enters the food chain will eventually dissapate.

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the carbon cycle


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