Figure 1: Schematic distribution
of chemical energy in a simple model ecosystem is described by an energy level
diagram. The governing thermodynamic principle is exemplified by considering
only one type of base constituents (atoms), but the result has been generalized
for diverse base constituents . The number of individuals at trophic level j makes a population .
The corresponding density-in-energy amounts from the number of base constituents that are needed to assemble the population and from
the invested energy . For
a species at a level j in the food
web many atoms and much energy are needed to propel its growth and to maintain it
in the mature state. Species are equipped with mechanisms to generate these vital
flows of energy by numerous reactions (arrows) that absorb high-energy or emit low-energy
quanta (wavy arrows). Systems on larger areas, hence having access to more base
will evolve to larger and more effective energy transduction machineries
comprising more species. Coloring emphasizes that species differ from each
other by their energy transduction properties, that is, phenotypes.