Explain how energy is transferred through trophic levels.

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Dec 10th, 2014


  • Energy decreases as it moves up trophic levels because energy is lost as metabolic heat when the organisms from one trophic level are consumed by organisms from the next level.

  • Trophic level transfer efficiency (TLTE) measures the amount of energy that is transferred between trophic levels.

  • food chain can usually sustain no more than six energy transfers before all the energy is used up.

  • Net production efficiency (NPE) measures how efficiently each trophic level uses and incorporates the energy from its food into biomass to fuel the next trophic level.

  • Endotherms have a low NPE and use more energy for heat and respiration than ectotherms, so most endotherms have to eat more often than ectotherms to get the energy they need for survival.

  • Since cattle and other livestock have low NPEs, it is more costly to produce energy content in the form of meat and other animal products than in the form of corn, soybeans, and other crops.


Dec 10th, 2014

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