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| Carl Sagan's COSMOS is one of the most influential science programs ever made.
Q. Does the moon have a dark side?
A. The moon does have a far side which is impossible to see from the earth, but it doesn't mean that it's always dark. Each side of the moon is dark for no longer than 15 days at a time.
Q. Where does sound come from?
A. The air is always filled with sound waves. All things give off vibrations, but some have a low frequency which most cannot hear. The reason: it may take 3 minutes to make a single vibration. They may be caused by earthquakes and storms.
Did You Know?
The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
Coke-a-Cola was originally green.
Rubberbands last longer when refrigerated.
Nature's Pyramid of Ecology
by Jeanette Cain
Nature's pyramid consists of a foundation of green plants, with herbivores taking the second level, carnivores coming in third, and the fourth pyramid step belongs to the head huncho of carnivores. The first determining factor of animal populations within an area depends on the amount of food that is available. The pyramid is used in reverse order within some communities.
The second factor is the method used by the animals for capturing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The predators need to be large enough to find, catch, and kill their meals. An example is the ability of a fox to catch a rabbit, but not the larger predators. Some animals travel and hunt in packs, such as wolves. Hunting in packs, the predators have combined individual strengths into one that is capable of bringing down animals larger than themselves.
The herbivores do not have this problem. The size of the herbivores does not normally depend on their ability to obtain food, nor does it require muscle-bound limbs. Think of the ant's tiny body compared to the body of an elephant. Trouble arises in a community when the energy decreases.
Interruptions in the food chain will cause a depletion of the energy in a community. With a decrease in energy comes a decrease in the populations of animals living in the area. A grassland community has more plants, which supports the herbivore population. As a result the grassland community will carry a larger number of plant eaters, rather than predators.
If the pyramid is turned upside down when studying some communities, there are more individuals living at the higher steps of the food chain. If the community were a forest, trees may be few in relation to the insects living in the forest.
The pyramid is used as a general guideline for the study of community health. The pyramid does not have a set standard, as its proportions will vary from community to community. Some scientists use another method for plotting the food chain within a community, biomass pyramid. Biomass refers to the weight (living) of organisms at different levels in the food chain. The living weight will decrease as the energy available decreases. The effect is a decrease of food to the organisms in relation to the number of animals through which the energy passed.
The biomass pyramid in a grassland community will show the combined weight of plant material being higher than the combined weight of herbivores. In succession, the herbivore weight will weigh more than the individuals in the lower level. Basically the biomass pyramid is more concerned with the combined weights of individuals. An example is of an owl and a mole: the owl will be heavier than the mole, however, the large number of moles will weigh heavier than the few owls living in the community.
1. Shreeve, Tim. Discovering Ecology. Sceptre Books Ltd: London. 1982
2. Editors. The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book-Childcraft International, Inc: Chicago. 1990
9(o) Trophic Pyramids and Food Webs
e-Book introduction to biogeography and ecology. So far we have described food chains as morphological systems of energy flow. The energy flow within food chains can also be described in more quantitative terms.
Different Types of Ecological Pyramids
The pyramid of numbers is an energy pyramid based on the number of organisms at each trophic level, which can be drawn by counting the number of producers (plants) in an area that support a number of herbivores, and in turn, higher-order carnivores.