question homework

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Thu Sep 11 16:29:42 EST 1997


At 5:33 PM -0400 9/10/97, sydney wrote:
>Can anyone answer these questions for me?
>Why are plants considered the first link in the food chain?
>                                  thanks to all who can help
>lucas1 at tld2.tld.net

Plants trap the energy of sunlight into the
form of chemical energy in the bonds of various
carbohydrates (esp. sugars) in the process
called photosynthesis.

This solar energy entrapment by plants is the
most important source of biological energy on
the planet.  The only other meaningful sources
of energy for life include thermochemical
mechanisms occurring in hot springs and thermal
vents on the ocean floor.  Those are very limited
in serving the biosphere with energy.  So the
process of photosynthesis is the source of most
(virtually all) biological functions.  Plants
are sometimes called PRODUCERS because they
produce these useful molecules that contain the
energy for life.

To get at this energy source, animals must eat
plants (herbivores) or must eat herbivores
(carnivores) or other carnivores (top-carnivore).
These organisms are called CONSUMERS because they
are totally dependent upon the supply of energy
provided by the plants.  So plants are the first
"link" in the chain.

The biomes of the world are named by their plants
(not by their animals).  More importantly, plants
produce the oxygen needed for our respiration
functions and to restore our ozone layer.  That we
humans are so dependent upon plants should make us
pause before we chuckle about farmers and foresters,
should make us pause before we burn an acre of rain
forest, poison cubic kilometers of ocean, or raze a
forest to build yet another road, etc. etc.

Good luck on your homework.  Your textbook can probably
give you more good ideas...it is likely pretty interesting
reading if you just give it a chance!

ross

_______________________________________________________________
Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479
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