You are on page 1of 6

APES Food for thought ... Trophic levels

Plants make food during photosynthesis; they are called primary producers or autotrophs.

Animals eat the food. They are known as consumers or heterotrophs.

  • 1. What does the suffix “troph” mean?

-> The suffix “Troph” means “One nourished or growing in the manner indicated.

  • 2. What do you think a trophic level is?

-> A trophic level is a pyramid of the types of diets of animals.

  • 3. How about food chains, food webs? Compare and contrast those terms you learned in biology.

-> Food chains show a single path of animals that eat each other. Food webs show how plants and animals are connected to each other by different paths.

  • 4. Quickly sketch a food chain using organisms that might be found on our school grounds.

a. What do you have to do to turn it into a food web? Do so.

APES Food for thought ... Trophic levels Plants make food during photosynthesis; they are called primary

5. Look at the following diagrams called Energy Pyramids.

a. What do they all have in common? -> There are less species as it goes to the top, there is also always more plants than animals

  • b. How are they different from one another?

-> They are different because the energy pyramids show different ecosystems from one another.

  • 6. Why are there are more organisms at the base and less organisms as you travel up the


  • a. Any idea what an energy pyramid shows?

-> There are more organisms at the base because those have the most energy. There needs to be a large amount to support the other trophic levels. An energy pyramid shows that it’s starting from the bottom going up, energy is transferred (and loss).

  • 7. Two of the pyramids have numbers. Do you see a pattern in the numbers?

    • a. What might the numbers mean?

-> The pattern of the numbers is that each trophic level up is 10x less than the trophic level below. The numbers might mean that every trophic level is transferred, 90% of energy is loss.


Calculate the number of gh a hen needs to eat per year.

-> 25gh*365days=9125 gh

  • 2. How many gh are needed for a year’s supply of hens for you, the farmer?

-> 25gh*365day*365day= 3330625 gh

  • 3. What is the total mass in kg, of the gh needed to feed all the hens for one year?

-> 3330625/1000= 3330.625 kg

  • 4. How many kg of soybeans are needed to feed all the gh for one year?

-> 3330625*.03=99918.75 kg

  • 5. Sources tell us that Native American Indians ate gh. So you can too! These early Americans

could collect about 90 kg of gh per hour, when they were abundant. How many people could the

gh feed, compared to the one person that the hen fed? (Perhaps you could dip the gh in chocolate.)

-> 90kg=90000gh. 90,000/600=150 people.

6. You need to consume 3000 calories/day. If you ate only soybeans how many grams of soybeans would you have to eat per day for calories alone?

-> 3000/3.3=909 soy beans

  • 7. Cows produce about 19 kg protein/acre/year and soy produces 200 kg of protein/acre/year. a. Which is more efficient to eat? Why?

-> The soy is more efficient to eat. This is because the soy produces over 10x the protein/acre/year a cow does.

  • b. Have you ever eaten a soy burger (veggie burger)? Why or why not?

-> No, I have never eaten a soy burger.

8. In theory, the earth could support many more people if we ate at a lower trophic level.

  • a. List 2 benefits of doing this.

-> Healthier food at lower trophic levels, less hunger in the world.

  • b. List 2 drawbacks of eating lower on the food chain.

-> Less of the organisms and more of the organisms of the higher trophic levels.

  • c. What are some benefits of being a vegetarian? -> Less animal consumption

    • d. What are some drawbacks?

-> Lacking nutrients that may be only found in animals, won't get enough proteins.

9. And then there are fish to eat! Large predatory fish usually are found at the 3rd or 4th trophic level of an energy pyramid. What does this mean in terms of energy loss?

-> You lose 72.9%

10. Large predatory animals can also be problematic to eat because of bioaccumulation and bio magnification of toxins such as lead or mercury in their habitats. What do those two big words mean and why should this be considered when discussing food chains and trophic levels?

-> Bioaccumulation - Process by which certain toxic substances (such as heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls) accumulate and keep on accumulating in living organisms, posing a threat to health, life, and to the environment.

Bio magnification - The concentration of toxins in an organism as a result of its ingesting other plants or animals in which the toxins are more widely disbursed.

This should be considered when discussing food chains and trophic levels because the food that we eat could have accumulated a dangerous toxin. This toxin could increase in the food chain, and when we humans eat it, we will also have the toxin in our body.

11. Do you think about the food you eat? Why or why not?

-> I do think about the food I eat because it’s important to know what to eat and what not, which is healthy.