Energy Transfer and Decay

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What is the main source of energy for nearly all life on Earth?
The Sun
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How to green plants and algae use light energy from the Sun?
To make food during photosynthesis. This energy's stored in the substances which make up the cells of plants and algae, and then works its way through the food chain as animals eat them and each other.
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How is respiration involved in the loss of energy in food chains?
Most of the energy is lost to the surroundings as heat, which is especially true for mammals and birds, whose bodies must be kept at a constant temperature which is normally higher than their surroundings.
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How is material which makes up plants and animals involved in the loss of energy in food chains?
Some of the material which makes up plants and animals is inedible (e.g. bone), so it doesn't pass to the next stage of the food chain. Material and energy are also lost from the food chain in the organisms' waste materials.
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How does this loss of energy explain pyramids of biomass?
Most of the biomass is lost and so does not become biomass in the next level up.
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How does this loss of energy explain why pyramids of biomass can have more than approx. five trophic levels?
So much energy is lost at each stage that there's not enough left to support more organisms after four or five stages.
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What elements do plants take in and how are these passed through the food chain?
Plants take elements like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen from the soil or the air and turn them into complex compounds (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) that make up living organisms, and these then pass through the food chain.
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How are these elements returned to the environment?
By waste products produced by the organisms, or when the organisms die. These materials decay because they're digested by microorganisms, which is how elements get put back into the soil.
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What conditions do microorganisms work best in and why?
Warm, moist conditions with lots of oxygen, as they break down material faster. Compost bins recreate these ideal conditions.
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What does it mean by recycling elements?
They are returned to the soil, ready to be used by new plants and put back into the food chain again.
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What happens to materials in a stable community?
Materials that are taken out of the soil and used are balanced by those that are put back in - there's a constant cycle happening.
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What can the decayed remains of animal and plant matter in compost bins be used as?
Fertiliser - recyles nutrients back into the soil.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

How to green plants and algae use light energy from the Sun?

Back

To make food during photosynthesis. This energy's stored in the substances which make up the cells of plants and algae, and then works its way through the food chain as animals eat them and each other.

Card 3

Front

How is respiration involved in the loss of energy in food chains?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

How is material which makes up plants and animals involved in the loss of energy in food chains?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

How does this loss of energy explain pyramids of biomass?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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