Ecological efficiency is how much chemical energy an organism can produce from the food that it absorbs. On a simple level, children, for instance, convert food into energy and physical activity. An organism uses its food for other physical and biological processes. Both have an ecological efficiency, meaning they can only take so much of that food and produce it into energy. Plants, for instance, can convert less than 1 percent of the light they get from the sun into energy for their cells. The higher an organism is on the food chain, the lower its ecological efficiency, because the loss of energy as heat is compounded as we move up the chain.
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