L> The Food Chain

Life ~ above the Food Chain

Have you ever wondered why us can"t it seems ~ to feeding the world"shungry? It"s a complicated issue, however it could surprise you come learnthat it"s not due to the fact that there isn"t enough food; currentagricultural capacity, based on current technology, exists to feed as many as 10 exchange rate people.The Earth"s population is "only" about 7 billion. The big question really is: If we want to feeding everyone,what would everyone should eat? to answer that question, download this excel spreadsheet and try plugging in part numbers.

Example: One acre of a grain crop might be used to feed cattle, and then the cattle could be provided to feed people. If 50% that the energy is shed to the cattle, you might feed double as many world if you fed lock the grain directly. Another method of looking in ~ it is that it would only take a half acre of soil to feeding the civilization grain, but a entirety acre if you feeding the grain to the cattle and the livestock to the people. A common practice come grow livestock faster is to feeding them ground up animal protein. This method that once we eat the meat indigenous the cow, we"re in ~ the tertiary level or higher. The loss of energy in between trophic level may likewise be also higher. Recent studies imply that only ~10% of power is convert to biomass indigenous one trophic level to the next!

The Food Chain: The answer has to do with trophic levels. Together you more than likely know, the organisms at the base of the food chain are photosynthetic; plants on land and phytoplankton (algae) in the oceans. This organisms are called the producers, and also they gain their energy straight from sunlight and inorganic nutrients. The organisms that eat the producers space the primary consumers. They often tend to be little in size and there are many of them. The primary consumers are herbivores (vegetarians). The organisms that eat the primary consumers room meat eaters (carnivores) and also are referred to as the secondary consumers. The an additional consumers often tend to it is in larger and also fewer in number. This continues on, all the method up to the height of the food chain. About 50% that the power (possibly as lot as 90%) in food is lost at each trophic level once an organism is eaten, so that is less effective to it is in a greater order consumer than a primary consumer. Therefore, the energy transfer indigenous one trophic level to the next, up the food chain, is favor a pyramid; more comprehensive at the base and also narrower in ~ the top. Therefore inefficiency, over there is only enough food for a few top level consumers, yet there is many food for herbivores reduced down top top thefood chain. There room fewer consumers than producers.

Land and also aquatic power pyramids

Trophic Level Desert biome Grassland biology Pond Biome s Biome Producer (Photosynthetic) Primary consumer (Herbivore) secondary Consumer (Carnivore) Tertiary consumer (Carnivore) Quaternary consumer (Carnivore)
Cactus Grass Algae Phytoplankton
Butterfly Grasshopper Insect Larva Zooplankton
Lizard Mouse Minnow Fish
Snake Snake Frog Seal
Roadrunner Hawk Raccoon Shark
Food Web: At every trophic level, there might be many an ext species than shown in the table above. Food webs deserve to be an extremely complex. Food access may differ seasonally or by time the day. An organism prefer a mouse could play 2 roles, eat insects on chance (making the a second consumer), but also dining directly on plants (making the a primary consumer). A food net of who eats who in the southwest American desert biome might look something choose this:


image source: http://iqa.evergreenps.org/science/biology/ecosystem_files/food-web.jpg

Keystone Species: In some food webs, over there is one an important "keystone species" upon which the whole system depends. In the same means that one arch collapses when the keystone is removed, an entire food chain have the right to collapse if there is a decrease in a keystone species. Often, the keystone types is a predator the keeps the herbivores in check, and prevents them indigenous overconsuming the plants, leading to a substantial die off. When we remove peak predators favor grizzly bears, orca whales, or wolves, for example, over there is proof that it affects not simply the prey species, but even the physical environment.

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Apex Predators: These varieties are in ~ the optimal of the food chain and the healthy adults have no natural predators. The young and old might in some cases be preyed upon, yet they typically succumb to disease, hunger, the results of aging, or some mix of them. The additionally suffer from competition through humans, that often get rid of the optimal predators in bespeak to have actually exclusive accessibility to the prey species, or through habitat destruction, which is one indirect kind of competition.Decomposers: when organisms die, they room sometimes eaten by scavengers however the staying tissues are damaged down by fungi and bacteria. In this way, the nutrients that were component of the body are returned to the bottom that the trophic pyramid.Bioaccumulation: In enhancement to being less energy efficient, eating higher up the food chain has actually its risks. Pesticides and heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead tend to be consumed in small quantities through the major consumers. These toxins obtain stored in the fats of the animal. Once this pet is consumed by a second consumer, this toxins become an ext concentrated because an additional consumers eat too many of major consumers, and often live longer too. Swordfish and tuna are near the top of the aquatic food chain and, once we eat them, we space consuming all of the toxins that they have collected over a lifetime. For this reason, pregnant women space advised against eating these foods.Solve the following difficulties mathematically.1. Given: 10 billion civilization can it is in fed a basic vegetarian diet that is nutritionally complete. How many world could us feed at the American standard-a tertiary level of intake (3rd orderconsumers?). 50% of the power is lost by each higher level.2. If there room 250 million world in the unified States many ofthem eating at the Tertiary (3rd) level the consumption, exactly how manypeople might we feeding at the main level?3.

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Some pets like sharks are fifth order consumers! Sharks eattuna that eat mackerel that eat herring the eat copepods the eatdiatoms. If we were to make the reasonable presumption that every ofthese pets eats 2 the its food each day, how plenty of organisms passed away tofeed the shark in one day?