Energy Flow and Trophic Structure

  • Stuart L. Pimm
Conference paper
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 67)


As Odum (1971a) succinctly put it,

The transfer of food energy from the source in plants through a series of organisms, with repeated eating and being eaten, is referred to as a food chain. At each transfer a large proportion, 80 to 90 percent, of the potential energy is lost as heat. Therefore the number of ‘links’ in a sequence is limited, usually four or five ... The number of consumers that can be supported by a given primary production output very much depends on the length of the food chain; each link in the chain decreases the available energy by about one order of magnitude.


Trophic Level Food Chain Energy Flow Trophic Structure Tree Hole 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart L. Pimm

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