ENERGY FLOW THROUGH THE FOOD CHAIN
- Producers use energy from the sun and the resources in the soil to create their own energy, and are the source of all energy brought into the food chain.
- Herbivores consume plant matter and store the excess energy in their cells. Energy that is not available to carnivores, because they are unable to effectively digest plant matter, is transferred into animal cells, a form they can process.
- When animals die, decomposers break down the dead and decaying organic matter into smaller forms until the microbial community in the soil breaks them down into basic nutrients again. The plants absorb them again, thus continuing the cycle of energy and nutrients.
- Each trophic level supports the next. To keep an ecosystem sustainable, the nutrients and energy taken from it must be returned. Otherwise producers do not have the necessary resources to create more energy.
Nature keeps the ecosystem healthy by constantly cycling energy and nutrients through the food chain.