Energy Flow and Pyramids Extra Credit (5/15/15, Due 5/18/15)

Extra Credit for Energy Flow Unit    (assigned 5/15, due 5/18 ON A SEPARATE SHEET TO TURN IN)

  • Simple questions.  Answers must be accurate.  Own words!
  • You do not have to answer all questions; pick the ones you want.  The difficulty level of the questions increases as you go.
  • Point values range from 2 points to 5 points for each question. 
  • Answer on a separate sheet to turn in to the In Box on Monday. 
  • If you use a specific resource heavily, please cite it.


1. “Indirect Solar Energy”

After Ms. LaSovage’s neighbor mows his lawn, there are grass clippings left on the sidewalk.  The neighbor gets out his leaf blower and uses it to move the grass clippings.  After Ms. LaSovage mows her lawn, there are also grass clippings left on the sidewalk.  She gets a broom and sweeps up the grass clippings.  A student says: The leaf blower is powered by fossil fuels.  The broom is powered by "indirect solar energy."  Explain why you agree or disagree that the broom is powered by “indirect solar energy.”


2. “Fossil Fuels”

If you answered question 1, this is a follow up question:  Where did the energy in fossil fuels originally come from?  (Please answer fully, not with just a one-word answer!)


3. “Net Primary Productivity”

Some ecosystems are more productive than others – they assimilate more of the sun’s energy and create more biomass.  Find out what types of ecosystems (what biomes) are more and less productive.  Include a diagram in your answer and at least one statement written solely by you. 


4. “Reasons to be a vegetarian”

There are many reasons people may choose a vegetarian lifestyle.  One of the reasons is "energy efficiency."  This is not referring to turning off the lights or carpooling to save energy, but reducing the number of links between you and the energy of the sun (cutting out the middle man).  Research this “living lower on the food chain” and report on what it means, and why it is ethically/morally important to some people.  Include some numbers or facts in your explanation.



5. “Energy conversion vs. energy assimilation”

If you answered question 3, this is a follow up question.  It is more efficient to “live lower on the food chain,” which is a reason some people choose a vegetarian lifestyle.  On the planet, however, there are a few ecosystems where this may not actually be much more efficient, or may cause more problems than benefits.  Some information, for example, suggests that eating the products of animal grazing in the steppes of Asia is a better use of the ecological resources of that area than farming would be.  Efficiency so far in our discussion has meant efficient transfer of energy (which is not that efficient).  But we can also measure the conversion of energy into biomass, a different kind of efficiency.  Investigate this, and share what you learned in an understandable way.  (Hints: trophic level transfer efficiency, assimilation efficiency and net production efficiency may be terms to help you research.  Also consider other factors in an ecosystem, such as soil and climate and what can grow there naturally.)