Energy Flow

Energy flow, also known as caloric flow, is the energy transfer through the food chain in ecosystems. It starts with the involvement of the sunlight with the ecosystem through photosynthesis; the plants, called “producers”, get 100% of their energy from the sun. In this process, solar energy is converted to chemical energy. The next sequence occurs when animals and humans, called “primary consumers”, eat the producers (plants).

In this phase, the primary consumers are able to acquire 10% of the solar energy which was absorbed by the producers. The energy flow goes on with the secondary consumers (such as carnivores) which prey on the primary consumers; at this level, only 1% of the solar energy is obtained. This is then continued when the tertiary consumers eat the secondary consumers (like when humans eat the chicken which ate the grasshopper which ate leaves). In this case, only 0.1% of the solar energy is obtained. The last part of the chain involves the function of decomposers such as bacteria which break down organic matter. At this point, the energy is released back into the soil or into the atmosphere.

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