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Ecological Pyramids: Quantifying Ecosystems


Ecological pyramids graph the flow of energy and matter between trophic levels along the food chain.

For this, each rectangle represents, proportionally, the parameter to be analyzed. This graphic representation for being:

Pyramid of numbers

It represents the number of individuals at each food chain trophic level in proportion to the amount required for each of their dietary levels.

In some cases, when the producer is a large plant, the number chart has a different conformation than usual, being called “inverted pyramid”.

Another example of inverted pyramid is given when the pyramid involves parasites, thus the last most numerous trophic levels.

Biomass Pyramid

One can also think of the biomass pyramid, where the body mass (biomass) is computed and not the number of each trophic level of the food chain. The result will be similar to that found in the pyramid of numbers: producers will have the largest biomass and form the base of the pyramid, decreasing biomass at higher levels.

As in the previous example, in some cases it can be characterized as an inverted pyramid, as there is a possibility that, for example, there may be a reduction in biomass of some trophic level, changing such proportions.