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Concept in action

Head to this online interactive simulator to investigate food web function. In the Interactive Labs box, under Food Web , click Step 1 . Read the instructions first, and then click Step 2 for additional instructions. When you are ready to create a simulation, in the upper-right corner of the Interactive Labs box, click OPEN SIMULATOR .

Two general types of food webs are often shown interacting within a single ecosystem. A grazing food web    has plants or other photosynthetic organisms at its base, followed by herbivores and various carnivores. A detrital food web    consists of a base of organisms that feed on decaying organic matter (dead organisms), including decomposers (which break down dead and decaying organisms) and detritivores (which consume organic detritus). These organisms are usually bacteria, fungi, and invertebrate animals that recycle organic material back into the biotic part of the ecosystem as they themselves are consumed by other organisms. As ecosystems require a method to recycle material from dead organisms, grazing food webs have an associated detrital food web. For example, in a meadow ecosystem, plants may support a grazing food web of different organisms, primary and other levels of consumers, while at the same time supporting a detrital food web of bacteria and fungi feeding off dead plants and animals. Simultaneously, a detrital food web can contribute energy to a grazing food web, as when a robin eats an earthworm.

How organisms acquire energy in a food web

All living things require energy in one form or another. Energy is used by most complex metabolic pathways (usually in the form of ATP), especially those responsible for building large molecules from smaller compounds. Living organisms would not be able to assemble macromolecules (proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and complex carbohydrates) from their monomers without a constant energy input.

Food-web diagrams illustrate how energy flows directionally through ecosystems. They can also indicate how efficiently organisms acquire energy, use it, and how much remains for use by other organisms of the food web. Energy is acquired by living things in two ways: autotrophs harness light or chemical energy and heterotrophs acquire energy through the consumption and digestion of other living or previously living organisms.

Photosynthetic and chemosynthetic organisms are autotrophs , which are organisms capable of synthesizing their own food (more specifically, capable of using inorganic carbon as a carbon source). Photosynthetic autotrophs ( photoautotrophs ) use sunlight as an energy source, and chemosynthetic autotrophs ( chemoautotrophs ) use inorganic molecules as an energy source. Autotrophs are critical for most ecosystems: they are the producer trophic level. Without these organisms, energy would not be available to other living organisms, and life itself would not be possible.

Photoautotrophs, such as plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, are the energy source for a majority of the world’s ecosystems. These ecosystems are often described by grazing and detrital food webs. Photoautotrophs harness the Sun’s solar energy by converting it to chemical energy in the form of ATP (and NADP). The energy stored in ATP is used to synthesize complex organic molecules, such as glucose. The rate at which photosynthetic producers incorporate energy from the Sun is called gross primary productivity    . However, not all of the energy incorporated by producers is available to the other organisms in the food web because producers must also grow and reproduce, which consumes energy. Net primary productivity is the energy that remains in the producers after accounting for these organisms’ respiration and heat loss. The net productivity is then available to the primary consumers at the next trophic level.

Questions & Answers

how genes are regulated
Ainjue Reply
what is storage of glycogen
Student Reply
glycogen is a protein content
Najeem
how many times breathing a day normally does a person have
Vernalyn Reply
100
Aadil
on average 18000 times a day when resting.
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the -10 and -35 regions of prokaryotic promoters are called consensus sequences because
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Oogenesis is the process that produces sperm
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what is the nephrons
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Kalim
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a picture of a diktiosoom
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How so you understand Darwin's theory when this is not what you believe?
Jessica Reply
can someone describe the original theories of evolution generated by darwin and wallace
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Recombinant DNA is any DNA that
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which is organille of cytoplasm called protien factory
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what is NADP
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Population genetics is the study of:
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sponge cells are capable of
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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