The cycle starts with decomposing matter. The decomposing matter adds nutrients to the soil which is used by producers like plants for energy. Then consumers come and eat the producers to get their energy. Consumers sometimes also food eat other consumers for this energy transfer. When organisms at the top of the food chain die, the decomposers get to work and the cycle repeats.
This year we started with experiments studying decomposers and their role. Then, we did lots of experiments and observations on producers using our wildflowers from the Pete Dye Course. We have learned that they play a big role because without them other organisms can’t get the energy they need.
This week we are learning that food changes can vary. They can be as simple as one consumer eating one producer, or more complex with multiple consumers. It starts with consumer #1 eating a producer and then consumers #2 or more eating the previous consumer.
At the Pete Dye Course, we learned that there was an overpopulation of tadpoles in one of the ponds. Because they had a good food supply and no predators, this created an unbalanced ecosystem. Superintindent Apple added smallmouth bass, minnows, and bluegill to consume the tadpoles. He also added black dye to reduce the algae in order to insure a good oxygen supply for the fish and to maintain balance.
We know that at the Dye Course that we had deer, a consumer, eating some plants. We think that there may be a shortage of that species of plants and an overpopulation of others. We know that we might need to monitor this in order to keep our ecosystem balanced. To make sure we are having a variety of species of plants, so that all consumers in the area are getting the energy they need.
As you can see, food chains provide nutrients and energy to both plants and animals. It is vital to have a balance in order for all species to survive.