The biogeochemical cycle involves the transfer of energy from the sun through organisms until it reaches the final level of consumers. Each increasing consumer decreases the amount of energy gained. This means by the time that the energy gets to the final level of consumer, for example the great horned owl, the organism is getting only a minute portion of the initial energy from the sun. When the sun provides 10,000 k/cal of energy for producers to take in, but the producers receive 1,000 k/cal of the energy and they use 90% of the energy and 10% is for primary consumers. This means the primary consumers receive 100 k/cal of energy. Again 90% is used and the secondary consumers obtain 10 k/cal of energy this happens again and the tertiary consumers receive only 1k/cal of energy from the original 10,000 k/cal of energy that the sun originally released. This is why each level of consumers’ needs to consume more than before per organism, which is what causes there to be less top consumers and more of each level of consumer as one looks down each level of consumers. The volume of food needed to be eaten by each organism in directly correlated to how large the animal is. In general as one views the different levels of consumers one will see that the largest are often the top level consumers. This is because they need to be able to consume large quantities of smaller organisms in order to get enough nutrients.
Along with the transfer of energy through the ecosystem there is also a transfer of atoms, like carbon. The basics of the carbon cycle are that plants take in CO2 for photosynthesis and use the carbon in the Krebs cycle. This is used to build up and nourish the plant until the plant is consumed by a consumer. This passes the carbons from the plants on to the consumer. Once that primary consumer is eaten the carbon continues up with the passage of energy. When organisms undergo aerobic respiration they release CO2 back into the atmosphere which adds more carbon for plants. When organism die they begin to decay which releases even more carbon into the atmosphere for plants to use. This process is affected quite often all over the world by humans. One way humans change this is through their constant burning of fossil fuels. This has both long term and short term effects on the carbon cycle. One effect is that all of the fossil fuels that take millions of years to be formed are now being rapidly depleted, which leads to a large amount of carbon rapidly being added to the cycle faster than it is taken back out. Humans are also cutting down forests all over the world, which decreases the amount of carbon that is being taken out of the atmosphere. This all directly contributes to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because it changes the global carbon cycle, which the park is a part of.
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