ENERGY - THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS
All living things need nutrients in the forms of solids, liquids, or gas, as well as energy from the sun, to live. Nutrients that pass through the food chain go through trophic levels, as seen in the energy pyramid video above. (Click on video to play.)
A trophic level is made up of a group of species that share the same link in the food chain, passing on essential nutrients and energy from one level of the pyramid to the next. The amount of energy and nutrients, that each trophic level passes along to the next, is illustrated in the pyramid in percentage.
Species in any given ecosystem support the transfer of nutrients and energy to species in the next trophic level in a form that they can consume, and so on. The energy and nutrients are then recycled back into the soil, creating a healthy, self-sustaining ecosystem.
Each level of the trophic pyramid represents a group of species categorized by the way they get their energy: as producers, consumers, or decomposers.
When energy is consumed by an animal, most of it is used for movement and maintaining body temperature to keep them warm. In fact, only 10% of that energy is stored and passed on to the next link in the food chain. This means that animals in higher trophic levels must consume more nutrients and energy to sustain themselves.
Let’s see how energy and nutrients move through terrestrial ecosystems and what different trophic levels do to transfer nutrients to other levels.