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Food Chains and Cellular Energy

The ultimate source of all energy on Earth is the Sun. Without this energy, there would be no life as it is the basis of
every food chain (with very few exceptions in the deep ocean).
A food chain shows the flow of energy from one organism to another. The arrows are used to show the feeding
relationships between organisms within an ecosystem. The arrow points in the direction of the transfer of biomass
and energy.
In the space below, construct a food chain with 4 feeding steps. Pay attention to the direction of the arrow.

Organisms are grouped into trophic levels (feeding steps) based upon what they eat and how they produce energy.
This mechanism for obtaining energy can be broken into two major categories.
Producers:
o Autotrophs:
o Chemosynthetic Organisms:

Consumers:

There are three mechanisms for producing and using energy on a cellular level: photosynthesis, cellular respiration,
and chemosynthesis. For the purpose of this class, we will only focus on the first two.
Type

Photosynthesis

Cellular
Respiration

Definition

Purpose

Equation

Both photosynthesis and respiration are biochemical systems.


In the equations above, underline the inputs and put a box around the outputs.
In the space below, draw a systems diagram for each of these systems. Place a box around storages, use
arrows to demonstrate flows of matter and energy, show inputs and outputs, and label transformations and
transfers of matter and energy.
Draw each separately, then connect the two.

Within organisms, there is a hierarchy of feeding based on consumption.


Group
Trophic
Nutrition: Energy Source
Function
Name
Level

To do:
1. Discuss the limitations of food chains.
2. Describe how feeding relationships within an ecosystem be represented with more accuracy.
3. Construct a more complex diagram to represent many feeding steps within an ecosystem.