One way to study the interactions of organisms within an ecosystem is to follow the energy that flows through an ecosystem. Organisms differ in how they obtain energy, and they are classified as autotrophs or heterotrophs based on how they obtain their energy in an ecosystem.
Energy in an Ecosystem
Organisms that collect energy from sunlight or inorganic substances to produce food.
– All of the green plants and other organisms that produce their own food in an ecosystem are primary producers called autotrophs.
– Organisms that contain chlorophyll absorb energy during photosynthesis and use it to convert the inorganic substances carbon dioxide and water to organic molecules.
– In places where sunlight is unavailable, some bacteria use hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide to make organic molecules to use as food.
Autotrophs are the foundation of all ecosystem became they make energy available for all other organisms in an ecosystem.
Organisms that get their energy requirements by consuming other organisms.
– Heterotrophs are also called consumers.
– A heterotroph that eats only plants is an herbivore such as a cow, a rabbit, or grasshopper.
– Heterotrophs that prey on other heterotrophs, such as wolves, lions, and lynxes are called carnivores.
A heterotroph that eats only plants is an herbivore.
Examples: a cow, a rabbit, or grasshopper.
Heterotrophs that prey on other heterotrophs.
Examples : wolves, lions, and lynxes are called carnivores.
– Organisms that eat fragments of dead matter in an ecosystem, and return nutrients to the soil, air, and water where the nutrients can be reused by organisms.
– Food chains and food webs model the energy flow through an ecosystem.
– Each step in a food chain or food web is called trophic level.
Models of Energy Flow
Each step in a food chain or food web.
A food chain is a simple model that shows how energy flows through an ecosystem.
A food web is a model representing the many interconnected food chains and pathways in which energy flows through a group of organisms.
An ecological pyramids is a diagram that shows the relative amounts of energy, biomass, or numbers of organisms at each trophic level.
– Biomass is the total mass of living matter at each trophic level.
The total mass of living matter at each trophic level.
Eats both plants and meats.