Energy Laws and Ecology Questions – A field of corn contains a certain amount of food energy

Energy Laws and Ecology Questions
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A field of corn contains a certain amount
of food energy. If cattle eat the corn,
they will gain some of that energy. How
does the amount of energy in the corn compare with the amount of energy in the
cattle? Is it more efficient to feed on
corn or beef? In this activity, you will
compare the energy content of some familiar human foods
The table
below lists the average amount of energy (in kilojoules per square meter of
land per year) in different organisms that people use for food.



(P) or Consumer (C)

Wheat cereal

3 400

Oranges and grapefruits

4 200

Pork (pig)



3 850


5 200

Milk (cow)

1 800


6 700




3 400

Other vegetables



6 300


3 800

Beef (cow)


Beet sugar

8 300

Cane sugar

14 650




6 700

Eggs (chicken)


the organisms in the table as a producer or consumer by placing either a P
(for producer) or C (for consumer) in the right hand column on the table.

the AVERAGE energy of all the producers. Show all your calculations.

the AVERAGE energy of all the consumers. Show all your calculations.

organisms (producers or consumers) can offer more energy on average to the
trophic level that feeds on them?

you think it is more efficient for people to eat plant products or animal
products? Why?

What is the 10% biomass rule?

3. Someone studied a
freshwater spring community and found about 800 grams of plants per square
meter of ecosystem. About how much
herbivore biomass would you expect her to find?

4. The amount of energy
available to a family of mountain lions is limited by the intensity and
duration of sunlight in their region.
True or false? Why?

5. What type of flow does
energy show through an ecosystem? What about matter?

6. It has been said that
nature wastes nothing. How would you
respond to the skeptic who said, “When I walk through a woods I see all kinds
of waste. Dead leaves, tree branches, and stuff. Those things are all made of
atoms and molecules. It sure looks like waste to me.”

7. Carbon cycle sounds so
academic, so remote from our everyday lives. In fact, just the opposite is
true. We all participate in this and the other cycles constantly.
a. List at least 3 ways in which our bodies participate in the carbon cycle
directly. (One of these is a bit morbid.)

b. Can you think of other ways we participate in the carbon cycle through our
activities? (Use things that we do/use – do not use bodily functions or

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