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organism that can capture energy from sunlight or chemicals and use it to produce its own food from inorganic compounds; also called a producer

biological production

the capture of usable energy from the environment to produce organic compounds in which that energy is stored


the amount of living material, or the amount of organic material contained in living organisms, both as live or dead material, as in leaves (live) and stem wood (dead) of trees


an organism (bacteria) that derives energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide

ecosystem energy flow

movement of energy through an ecosystem from external environment through a series of organisms and back to external environment


a measure in a system of the amount of energy that is unavailable for useful work; as the disorder of a system increases, the entropy in a system also increases

gross production

production before respiration losses are subtracted


organisms that cannot make their own food and must obtain it from other organisms

net production

the gross primary production of an ecosystem minus the energy used by the producers for respiration


process by which plants and some other organisms use light energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and high-energy carbohydrates such as sugars and starches

primary production

the amount of light energy converted to chemical energy (organic compounds) by autotrophs (producers) in an ecosystem during a given time period


the metabolic processes whereby certain organisms obtain energy by breaking down complex organic molecules

secondary production

the amount of chemical energy in consumers' (heterotrophs) food that is converted to their own new biomass during a given time period

thermodynamic system

formed by an energy source, ecosystem, and energy sink, where the ecosystem is said to be an intermediate system between the energy source and the energy sink

trophic-level efficiency

the ratio of the biological production of one trophic level to the biological production of the next lower trophic level

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