Energy Flow - Biomass & More - Additional Biology

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Energy Flow

Pyramids of Biomass

Radiation from the Sun is the source of all energy for every living thing on Earth. This energy is captured by the living things, for example photosynthesis in plants and stored as new material. This new material adds to the biomass.

 Define Biomass
Biomass is the mass of living material in a living thing - an animal or plant -.
  Built up out of the Sun's energy. (The Sun = the source)
Biomass is measured as the dry mass of biological material

 Biomass is passed on through food chains or webs and into the animal which eat the plants the biomass is in. The eaten plant then adds to the animal's biomass and so on down the line. This is put into a pyramid of biomass. 

As you go up the pyramids, the biomass seems to decrease. Here's why;

  • Not all organisms are necessarily consumed by the level above
  • Some biomass is used up as waste
  • Some of the biomass eaten is used to make the new biomass of the thing doing the eating
  • The consumer at the very top gets the least amount of biomass from what it consumes

(http://sfscience.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/pyr_biomass.gif?w=300&h=300)

Losing Energy 

Where does all the biomass really go?

Firstly, not all the energy in what an animal eats can be used up. For example herbivores just can't digest all the plants they eat. This is passed out as faeces.

Funnily enough, meat is actually easier to digest for carnivores than plants are for herbivores so carnivores don't have to eat as much, and they produce less waste. 

Biomass is lost through all of the following ways

  • Biomass lost in urine
  • Biomass lost through faeces
  • Through heat from cellular respiration
  • Digestion  
  • Turned…

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