8. Define ecological pyramids and describe with examples, pyramids of number and biomass.
Ecological pyramid- The graphical representation of an ecological parameter such as number, biomass or energy, sequence wise in various trophic levels of a food chain in which producers are at the base, herbivores in the middle and carnivores at the top level. Ecological pyramids can be upright, inverted, or spindle-shaped. The three common types of ecological pyramids include the pyramid of number, pyramid of biomass and pyramid of energy.
1. Pyramids of number- It is the number of individuals per unit area at various trophic levels. It is generally upright, however, the pyramid of number in case of a big tree is generally inverted because number of insects that feed on tree generally exceeds in number.
2. Pyramids of biomass- It represents the biomass in various trophic levels. A pyramid of biomass is upright except in an aquatic food chain. A pyramid of biomass in the sea is generally inverted because the biomass of fishes is generally more than that of phytoplankton.
3. Pyramids of energy- It is the graphic representation of the amount of energy trapped at different trophic levels per unit area. Pyramid of energy is always upright.