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Write an essay explaining how energy is transferred through food chains. Explain why efficiency of transfer is important.

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Write an essay explaining how energy is transferred through food chains. Explain why efficiency of transfer is important. Energy flows from producers to consumers through food chains, which can only flow one way. Energy is non-renewable and can be transformed from one form to another. The energy source for all ecosystems is the sun as about 641 x 104 kJm-2y-1 of solar energy reaches the atmosphere although much of it does not break through and is radiated back into space. Food chains are often called trophic chains and there are four important levels in most chains. Firstly producers that are organisms that convert some of the energy from the sun into stored chemical energy (usually plants). ...read more.


Energy is also lost during photosynthesis as heat loss during the chemical reactions. Energy is also used during respiration in plants and by this is stored for the next section of the chain. Even more energy is lost when the consumer takes the energy from the producer. Energy is lost through the excretion of waste products, as well as heat loss and respiration. As so much energy is lost when transferred through food chains it is necessary that the transfers should remain as efficient as possible. This is necessary as it is thought that only around 10% of the energy gained from the previous tropic level is passed on the next level. This means that the energy from the sun is quickly reduced only allowing limited number of trophic levels in any food chain. ...read more.


Microorganisms then break down the molecules of the decay into ammonia. The next stage is nitrification when the ammonia is taken up by plants through the roots and converted into nitrates in two steps. Firstly the bacteria of the genus Nitrosomonas oxidize NH3 to nitrates and then Nitrobacter oxidizes nitrites to nitrates. The bacteria is called nitrifying bacteria and makes nitrogen available in plant roots. The finally stage is denitrification which reduces nitrates to nitrogen gas and returns it to the atmosphere. This is agented by anaerobic bacteria, which usually live in aquatic places. They use nitrates instead of oxygen for the final electron acceptor in their respiration. This has then closed the nitrogen cycle; the first three processes get nitrogen from the atmosphere and the final process releases back into the air. * Kate Muir-Jones ...read more.

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