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Life Science: EcoColumn

What's on the Menu?

In the video for Session 7 (Energy Flow in Communities), we explored how energy enters and is transferred through the living world. You have designed your EcoColumn to include producers, consumers, and decomposers, which makes it an excellent system for the study of energy flow. In “What’s on the Menu?” you’ll use what you know about the organisms in your EcoColumn to create a food web.

Materials Needed


  1. Make a list of all of the organisms in your EcoColumn, including any “newcomers” that you’ve observed since you stocked the system. You may find it helpful to use your “Taking Inventory” Data Sheet (PDF).
  2. Using your What’s On The Menu Data Sheet (PDF), identify how each organism obtains energy.
  3. Distinguish the producers, consumers, and decomposers from one another.
  4. Use your Food Web Chart (PDF) to create the food web that exists in your EcoColumn.

Activity Questions

  1. In your EcoColumn, which organisms are the producers? The consumers? The decomposers?
  2. How does energy enter the community in your EcoColumn?
  3. How is energy transferred through the community?
  4. The following is the chemical reaction for photosynthesis:

    light energy + CO2 + H2O -> CH2O + O2

    light energy + carbon dioxide + water -> sugar

    Pick an organism in your EcoColumn and use it as a physical model to describe how photosynthesis works.
  5. To which organisms is cell respiration important?
  6. The following is the chemical reaction for cell respiration:

    CH2O + O2 -> CO2 + H2O + energy

    >carbon dioxide + water + energy

    Pick an organism in your EcoColumn and use it as a physical model to describe how cell respiration works.
  7. What is the relative importance of photosynthesis and cell respiration in your EcoColumn?
  8. Where do the decomposers fit in your food web?
  9. What happens to energy flow once it reaches the decomposers?
  10. Which organisms are the most important in energy flow in a community? Explain your answer.
  11. How is a constant supply of energy ensured in your EcoColumn?
  12. How does energy flow in your EcoColumn compare to energy flow in a natural community?

SHARE YOUR RESULTS: What’s on the Menu?

prev: taking inventory

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