Biomass and energy pyramids are representations that deal with the movement of biomass and energy, respectively, through an ecosystem.
Slight imbalance in the ecosystem might be hazardous, and can have ill effects on all the living beings. Biomass and energy pyramids help us to know, if there is any kind of imbalance in the ecosystem. Cited below are brief explanations about both the representations, and also their differences.
Pyramids of Biomass and Energy
Both pyramids are maximum at the base, and they go on decreasing as the level moves upwards towards the apex. This is based on the law of thermodynamics, which says that energy cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred from one form to the other. The ecosystem consists of different organisms or trophic levels, like producers or plants, primary consumers – the animals that eat the plants, secondary consumers – animals that eat the primary ones, tertiary animals – include all the animals eating secondary consumers, and the last ones are the decomposers.
What is a Biomass Pyramid?
There are two kinds of this representation – namely, inverted and upright. This pyramid basically shows the relation between biomass and the trophic levels. A biomass pyramid can be measured in calories per meter square, or grams per meter square. It basically shows the productivity or the biomass at each trophic level. Biomass pyramid consists of four basic levels, namely; primary producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers.
What is an Energy Pyramid?
This representation is divided into three trophic levels; namely, producers that are at the base, herbivores that are placed above the producers, and carnivores that are at the pyramid’s apex. The energy pyramid is healthy, if the ecosystem or the environment is healthy, i.e. if there exists producers in large numbers, herbivores in moderate levels, and carnivores in small numbers. There are different energy pyramids for aquatic creatures, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc.
Difference between Biomass Pyramid and Energy Pyramid
|Biomass Pyramid||Energy Pyramid|
|It shows graphical representation of the relative amount of biomass at each trophic level.||It is a graphical representation of the trophic levels, by which the incoming solar energy is transferred to the ecosystem.|
|It expresses the total dry weight of the organisms existing in the trophic level.||It shows the total energy flow in the ecosystem.|
|There can be an inverted biomass pyramid.||An inverted pyramid of energy does not exist.|
|The organisms can be easily assigned to a particular trophic level in this pyramid.||The assignment of creatures to a particular level in this pyramid is difficult.|
Thus, we can conclude that in the biomass pyramid, in case of producers, biomass decreases progressively from lower to higher levels, whereas in case of aquatic animals, it is inverted depending on their reproduction and longevity. The energy pyramid indicates the flow of energy within different levels of the pyramid, with the lower levels having more energy. If we conserve our environment, a perfect balance can be maintained between both the pyramids.