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Amity University

Environmental studies

Name = Sukhdeep Singh

Course = B.Com (Hons.)
Sec. = A
Enrollment No. =
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flow in

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I would like to express my special thanks of gratitude to my

teacher Ms. Dipanwita Das Ma’am who gave me the
opportunity to do this wonderful project which helped me
in doing a lot of research and I came to know about so
many new things. I am really thankful to them.

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Sl no. Topic Page No.

1. What is Energy Flow in an 5

2. Universal Energy Flow Model 7
3. Single Channel Energy Flow Model 8
4. Y-Shaped/Double Channel Energy 9
Flow model
5. Reference 11

What is energy flow in

an ecosystem?
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In ecology, energy flow, also called the calorific flow, refers

to the flow of energy through a food chain, and is the focus
of study in ecological energetics. In
an ecosystem, ecologists seek to quantify the relative
importance of different component species and feeding
A general energy flow scenario is as follows:
1. Primary Producers- Solar energy is fixed by
the photoautotrophs, called primary producers, like
green plants. Primary consumers absorb most of the
stored energy in the plant through digestion, and
transform it into the form of energy they need, such
as adenosine triphosphate, through respiration. A part
of the energy received by primary
consumers, herbivores, is converted to body heat,
which is radiated away and lost from the system. The
loss of energy through body heat is far greater
in warm-blooded animals, which must eat much more
frequently than those that are cold-blooded.

2. Secondary consumers, carnivores, then consume the

primary consumers, although omnivores also consume
primary producers. Energy that had been used by the
primary consumers for growth and storage is thus
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absorbed into the secondary consumers through the

process of digestion. As with primary consumers,
secondary consumers convert this energy into a more
suitable form during respiration. Again, some energy is
lost from the system, since energy which the primary
consumers had used for respiration and regulation of
body temperature cannot be utilized by the secondary
3. Tertiary consumers, which may or may not be apex
predators, then consume the secondary consumers,
with some energy passed on and some lost, as with the
lower levels of the food chain.
4. A final link in the food chain are decomposers which
break down the organic matter of the tertiary
consumers and release nutrients into the soil. They
also break down plants, herbivores and carnivores that
were not eaten by organisms higher on the food chain,
as well as the undigested food that is excreted by
herbivores and carnivores.

Universal Energy
flow model
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The universal model is applicable to any living component,

which may be plant, animal, microorganism, individual,
population or trophic group. The shaded box (Fig. 4.6)
represents the living, standing crop biomass (generally
measured as some kind of weight, such as dry weight, wet
weight etc.) of the component which should be expressed
in calories, so that its relation with rates of energy flow can
be established. The total energy input or intake or
ingestion varies. For strict autotrophs, it is light, while, for
strict heterotrophs, it is organic food.
The universal energy flow can be used in two ways:
(1) The model can represent a species population with
appropriate energy inputs and its link with other species
(2) The model can represent a discrete energy level, where
the biomass and energy channels represent all or part of
many populations supported by the same energy source.
For example, foxes obtain their food partly by eating plants
(fruits) and partly by eating herbivore animals (rabbit, mice

Single Channel
Energy Flow Model
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The single or linear channel energy flow model is one of

the first published models pioneered by H. T. Odum in
1956. The figure depicts a community boundary and, in
addition to light and heat flows, it also includes import,
export and storage of organic matter. Decomposer
organisms are placed in a separate box as a means of
partially separating the grazing and detritus food chains.
Decomposers are actually a mixed group in terms of
energy levels and their importance in this energy flow
model is overlooked. This model will suffice as long as
only the imports and exports are considered.
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In this type of model, the grazing and detritus food chains
are shown as separate flows.
This is a more practical working model than the single
channel model mainly because:
1. It relates to the basic stratified structure of
2. The direct consumption of living plants and dead
organic matter are usually separated in both time and
3. The macro consumers and micro consumers differ
greatly in size-metabolism relations and in the
techniques required for studying them.
The grazing and detritus food chains are inter-connected.
Moreover, not all food eaten by grazers is actually
assimilated, as some is diverted to the detritus pathway.
Also, the amount of net production energy that flows down
the two pathways varies in different kinds of ecosystems
and, often in the same ecosystem; it may vary seasonally or
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The energy flow in case of shallow waters and heavily

grazed pastures or grassland shows larger energy flow via
the grazing food chain than in the detritus pathway. The
reverse is true in case of the forest, marshes and oceans.
Most natural ecosystems operate as detrital system, where
90 percent or more of the autotrophs’ production is not
consumed by heterotrophs until the leaves, stems and
other plant parts die and are processed into particulate and
dissolved organic matter in water, soil and sediments.
This delayed consumption increases the structural com-
plexity and biodiversity. It also increases the storage and
buffering capacities of ecosystems. For example, there
would be no forests if all free seedlings were grazed upon.
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For doing this project I’ve taken help from the following

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