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Paper Topic:

Describe the trophic levels in a typical ecosystem. Discuss the flow of energy through the ecosystem, the relationship between the different trophic levels, and the factors that limit the number of trophic levels


Ecosystem is a unit where there is an active interaction between the biotic or the living things and abiotic or non-living things . The living organisms in an ecosystem are continuously involved in an interrelationship with every element of the environment in which they exist . Eugene .P .Odum (1971 ) describes ecosystem as a unit that includes all the living organisms in a physical environment where the flow of energy leads to a well-defined trophic structure is an ecosystem

Trophic levels

The food chains or trophic networks in an ecosystem provide

a clear of the relationship for food between the organisms in an ecosystem . In a typical ecosystem , the food chain is represented by different types of organisms such as primary producers or autotrophs and the heterotrophs that depend on autotrophs for their energy needs . The organisms occupy different levels in a food chain based on its consumption of its food for energy . Each of the links in the food chain is trophic level , and as only , a fraction of the energy is converted to biomass at each level , at higher level the available energy will be less

Trophic levels in a typical ecosystem

The feeding position in a food chain is the trophic level . The general path of nutrients through the community of an ecosystem is defined by the trophic levels . A food pyramid better explains the trophic structure in an ecosystem and the organisms in a food pyramid occupy four trophic levels

First trophic level

All the producers occupy the first level in a food chain , which comprise of the organisms that perform the photosynthesis

Second trophic level

Herbivores or the organisms that consume producers for their energy needs occupy this trophic level

Third trophic level

This level comprises of primary carnivores that are predators of herbivores

Fourth trophic level

The secondary carnivores that consume primary carnivores for their energy occupy this trophic level of the food pyramid

Decomposers use the energy from the dead organisms or the wastes and complete the cycle by returning the nutrients

Flow of energy in an ecosystem

In all the ecosystems , energy enters as sunlight and through the process of photosynthesis , producers use around 0 .02 of the energy of the sunlight . In an ecosystem , the flow of energy is unidirectional , that is the energy of sunlight is transferred from the first trophic level to the final trophic level . Lindemann (1942 ) explains that 10 of the energy is transmitted through the trophic levels

Path of the energy flow

Energy flow through the grazing food chain

From the green plants to the carnivores which can be better explained as

Green plants , herbivores carnivores

Energy flow through the detritus food chain

The flow of energy starts from the organic matter to decomposers and to the other organisms such as

Dead organic matter , fungi and bacteria larvae of the insects


The principles of the flow of energy in an ecosystem

The flow of energy is an ecosystem follows the two laws of thermodynamics the...

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