4.2 - B - Energy Loss
As noted in the previous section, chemical energy that is produced by autotrophs is subsequently consumed and the energy is released through cellular respiration. Organisms use the ATP produced through cell respiration a variety of processes necessary for life, including:
The oxidation reactions involved in cell respiration release heat energy, which is used to make ATP. However, this process is not fully efficient so some of the heat energy is used. Since organisms cannot convert heat energy to other types, this heat is emitted out of the cells.
Heat energy made during cell respiration warms living organisms and is eventually emitted from the body. The energy remains in the ecosystem for a period of time but ultimately is lost and radiated towards the atmosphere.
Trophic Level Length
It is estimated that 90% of energy is lost between each trophic level. These losses are attributed to:
Biomass is the total mass of a group of organisms. Due to decreasing energy, the biomass of each trophic level decreases which results in less organisms. This affects the potential length of food chains that can be formed in an ecosystem as after 3 trophic levels only 0.1% of energy from producers is available. The typical length of a chain is restricted to 3-5 organisms.