Explain how energy moves through Florida Everglades’s ecosystem. Start with producers, move up to Keystone Predators, and complete the energy flow by including the decomposers.
Energy flows in an ecosystem in one direction, the food chain. It is also referred to as the calorific flow (Odum, 1988). This is mainly because in any ecosystem there is a prey and a predator. The energy will move from the prey to the predator. As much as energy moves from prey to predator, there is also movement of energy within the prey itself. When an animal ingests food, it is broken down through the process of digestion and when it combines with oxygen it produces energy in a process called respiration (Odum, 1988).
In the Florida Everglades water shapes the land, vegetation and animal life (U.S. Geological Survey, 2004). When the solar shines in the everglades, the plants are able to make food through photosynthesis, these plants are then eaten by the fish in the water. The fish are herbivores and depend on these plants. The birds of prey then eat the fish in the water, the birds of prey are carnivorous in nature, and finally when the birds of prey die the fungi and bacteria decomposes the dead carcasses and produce nutrients that will be utilised by the plants in their growth and development. This forms a cycle in the ecosystem that creates dependency on each other; each organism plays its role and the helps in sustaining the ecosystem.
The diagram below clearly indicates the energy flow in the form of a food chain; the arrow points to the eater.
U.S. Geological Survey (2004), Environmental Settings- The Natural Systems; Watersheds and Coastal Waters (Big Cypress Watershed), Circular 1134; the South Florida Environment. A Region under Stress, U. S. Department of the Interior
Odum, H. T (1988), Organization, Transformation and information, Science 242, Oxford University Press, New York