The Role of the Sun
The sun provides vast amounts of
energy, but only 1% is converted into stored food by plants. Most
of this energy is then used by the plant to grow, fight infection
and produce flowers, so even less of this 1% is available to the
herbivore or first order consumer that eats the plant.
The herbivore will gain about 10% of the energy from
the plant, in turn use most of this energy by moving, keeping warm,
breathing and other processes to keep alive. At this stage very
little of the energy from the sun is available for the carnivore
(second order consumer) as it gains 20-30% of the energy from the
The hunting carnivore has another problem, energy
must be used just to catch its meal and restore its energy levels.
The excess energy is lost as waste heat. To keep a food chain in
balance there are few carnivores, many herbivores and numerous
plants in any one environment.
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