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Author: admin, 26.10.2014. Category: Organic Foods

In an ecosystem, the producer –consumer relationship represents the trophic structure where each food level is called trophic level.
The amount of food flowing through the food chain usually drops with each step up the chain thus giving the characteristic ‘pyramid’ shape.
Basically there are three types of ecological pyramids – (1) pyramid of number (2) pyramid of biomass and (3) pyramid of energy. While studying the biotic components in an ecosystem we have realised that food prepared by green plants is consumed by a series of consumers, both herbivores and carnivores, and finally broken down into their elements and released back into nature by decomposers in nature.
The different steps or levels in a food chain form different trophic levels.The illustration below is self-explanatory. The study of food chains helps in understanding food relationship and interdependence among various organisms in an ecosystem.

The prominent British ecologist Charles Elton was first to recognize in 1927 that such a diagram often forms a pyramid and there are fewer individuals in each higher trophic level of an ecosystem. As the name suggests, pyramid of number represents the number of individuals at each trophic level.
Hence, in such situations, the number of producers is always more than that of primary consumers indicating the relationship in numbers between the different trophic levels. In forest ecosystem, there are fewer number of producers that support greater number of herbivores who in turn support a lesser number of carnivores.
The nutritional sequence in which food is transferred from the plant (producer) through a series of organisms with repeated eating and being eaten is called a food chain. Such ecological relationship can be represented graphically by means of ecological pyramids in which the producers make up the base while the successive level of consumers constitutes the upper tiers.

The number of consumers decline in the successive levels of pyramids from below upwards.This is true for aquatic and grassland ecosystem. As food is being transferred from one organism to another a lot of energy from food is lost.
Trophic levelsThus a food chain of four levels is built up where green plants fix up the solar energy and prepare the food and make it, directly or indirectly, available for other consumers.

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