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Energy Flow & Nutrient Cycle

Energy Flow & Nutrient Cycle

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Energy Flow & Nutrient Cycle

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  1. Energy Flow & Nutrient Cycle Big bugs have little bugs upon their backs to bite ‘em Little bugs have lesser ones an so ad infinitum. Lecture 017

  2. Food Chains • Artificial devices to illustrate energy flow from one trophic level to another • Trophic Levels: groups of organisms that obtain their energy in a similar manner

  3. Food Chains • Total number of levels in a food chain depends upon locality and number of species • Highest trophic levels occupied by adult animals with no predators of their own • Secondary Production: total amount of biomass produced in all higher trophic levels

  4. Nutrients • Inorganic nutrients incorporated into cells during photosynthesis • - e.g. N, P, C, S • Cyclic flow in food chains • Decomposers release inorganic forms that become available to autotrophs again

  5. Energy • Non-cyclic, unidirectional flow • Losses at each transfer from one trophic level to another • - Losses as heat from respiration • - Inefficiencies in processing • Total energy declines from one transfer to another • - Limits number of trophic levels

  6. Energy Flow

  7. Energy Flow through an Ecosystem Food Chain Tertiary Consumer Producer Primary Consumer Secondary Consumer grasshopper snake grass hawk heat heat heat Nutrients fungi Decomposer

  8. Transfer Efficiencies • Efficiency of energy transfer called transfer efficiency • Units are energy or biomass Pt = annual production at level t Pt-1 = annual production at t-1 Et = Pt Pt-1

  9. Transfer Efficiency Example • Net primary production = 150 g C/m2/yr • Herbivorous copepod production = 25 g C/m2/yr =Pcopepods Et = Pt Pt-1 = 25 = 0.17 Pphytoplankton 150 • Typical transfer efficiency ranges • *Level 1-2 ~20% • *Levels 2-3, …: ~10%

  10. Energy and Biomass Pyramids Kaneohe Bay 10 J Tertiary consumers 100 J Secondary consumers 1000 J Primary consumers 10,000 J Limu Primary producers 1,000,000 J of sunlight

  11. Energy Use By An Herbivore Algae eaten by Uhu Cellular Respiration Feces Growth

  12. Food Webs • Food chains don’t exist in real ecosystems • Almost all organisms are eaten by more than one predator • Food webs reflect these multiple and shifting interactions

  13. Antarctic Food Web

  14. Some Feeding Types Many species don’t fit into convenient categories • Algal Grazers and Browsers • Suspension Feeding • Filter Feeding • Deposit Feeding • Benthic Animal Predators • Plankton Pickers • Corallivores • Piscivores • Omnivores • Detritivores • Scavengers • Parasites • Cannibals • Ontogenetic dietary shifts

  15. Food Webs… Competitive relationships in food webs can reduce productivity at top levels Phytoplankton (100 units) Phytoplankton (100 units) Herbivorous Zooplankton (20 units) Herbivorous Zooplankton (20 units) Carnivorous Zooplankton A (2 units) Carnivorous Zooplankton A (1 units) Carnivorous Zooplankton B (1 units) Fish (0.2 units) Fish (0.1 units)

  16. An Ecological Mystery

  17. Keystone Species Kelp Forests

  18. Food Webs

  19. An Ecological Mystery • Long-term study of sea otter populations along the Aleutians and Western Alaska • 1970s: sea otter populations healthy and expanding • 1990s: some populations of sea otters were declining • Possibly due to migration rather than mortality • 1993: 800km area in Aleutians surveyed • - Sea otter population reduced by 50%

  20. Vanishing Sea Otters • 1997: surveys repeated • Sea otter populations had declines by 90% • - 1970: ~53,000 sea otters in survey area • - 1997: ~6,000 sea otters • Why? • - Reproductive failure? • - Starvation, pollution disease?

  21. Cause of the Decline • 1991: one researcher observed an orca eating a sea otter • Sea lions and seals are normal prey for orcas • Clam Lagoon inaccessible to orcas- no decline • Decline in usual prey led to a switch to sea otters • As few as 4 orcas feeding on otters could account on the impact • - Single orca could consume 1,825 otters/year