Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne 10 Percent Rule
Name: donna
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

There is a loss of energy at each step in a food chain. I was wondering what natural law does that illustrate? What structure is created by that process?

Look up the Ecological Energy Pyramid and the 10 percent rule. This is what you are after.

Steve Sample

This sounds like a homework problem. I'll give you my answer, and you can try to explain it. The natural law it illustrates is the second law of thermodynamics; entropy is created in any natural trnasfer of energy.

Richard E. Barrans Jr.

This illustrates the law of entropy. This law observes that whenever there is a transfer or transformation of energy some of the energy is transformed into a form that is less useful (effectively 'lost' although it is not destroyed - only in a less useful form).

You may be asking about energy pyramids. These are graphs that show the total energy found at each level of a food chain. The lowest level (producers) is the widest. With every upward step (first order consumer, second order consumer...) the pyramid becomes narrower as energy is lost fromt he system.

I hope this information is useful.

Cameron Millsom

Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory