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4.2: Energy Flow

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State how energy in carbon compounds enters most biological communities.

Understanding: Most ecosystems rely on a supply of energy from sunlight.
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1. Light energy is converted by an autotrophs to chemical energy stored in carbon compounds (such as glucose) through photosynthesis.

2. Energy is transferred to other organisms through feeding; producers are eaten by primary consumers, these by secondary consumers, these by tertiary consumers...

3. Cellular respiration releases energy from the carbon compounds to produce ATP for use by organisms for metabolism, growth, repair, and/or movement

4. Approximately 90% of the energy at each trophic level is lost as heat, biomass not consumed (i.e. bones/hair) or biomass lost as waste (i.e. in feces/urine)

Energy is NOT recycled!
Image: *Outline the flow of energy through a food chain.*

Understanding: Chemical energy in carbon compounds flows through food chains by means of feeding.
When drawing a food chain, begin with a producer. Draw an arrow to the organism(s) that eats the producer, called the primary consumer. Draw additional organisms and arrows to represent the chain of feeding, from the primary consumer to the secondary consumer and from secondary consumer to the tertiary consumer.
Image: *Draw a food chain, labeling the producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer and tertiary consumer.*

Understanding: Chemical energy in carbon compounds flows through food chains by means of feeding.
Heat energy is released as glucose burns. This is combustion. During cell respiration glucose is broken down gradually by a series of reactions, each catalysed by a different enzyme. This releases energy in small amounts so that it can be used by cells.

However, metabolism is far from efficient at capturing the energy in glucose in the form of ATP. A large fraction of the energy is lost as heat in the process of making ATP.
Image: *Outline the reason why respiration releases heat.*

Understanding: Energy released from carbon compounds by respiration is used in living organisms and converted to heat.