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Ecological Pyramid – Definition, Types, Importance, Limitations

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  • Last Updated : 20 Aug, 2022
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An ecological pyramid is also integral to a biological ecosystem. In 1939, Charles Elton previously presented the idea of the ecological pyramid. An ecological pyramid is a graphical portrayal of the dispersion of biomass or energy inside an ecosystem. The biomass is disseminated by the number of individual creatures at each trophic level. Each step or level of the order of the food chain frames a trophic level. Ecological pyramids conformed to the trophic construction of the ecosystem. The pyramid in the biological system comprises various layers starting from the earliest stage to the top. The autotrophs or the producers are at the main trophic level. They fix up the sun-powered energy and make it accessible for heterotrophs or consumers. The herbivores or the primary consumers come at the second, little carnivores or the secondary consumers at the third, and bigger carnivores or the tertiary consumers structure the fourth trophic level. Taking a gander at the trophic levels from the beginning to the highest point of the pyramid, it is seen that the quantity of life forms in each trophic level is a step by step diminishing. The foundation of the pyramid is shaped by the producers and the progressive supplement layers ascend to the top. At long last, the apex predators are the greatest top consumers.

Ecological Pyramid

The graphical portrayal of the connection between different living creatures at different trophic levels inside a food chain is called an ecological pyramid. The pyramid is framed based on the number of creatures, energy, and biomass, and very much like the name recommends, these are shaped as a pyramid. The various kinds of ecological pyramids depend on how much energy or biomass is accessible to each trophic level.

Ecological Pyramid


The theory of the ecological pyramid was recommended by Raymond Lindeman and G. Evelyn Hutchinson. The ecological pyramid is additionally known as the energy pyramid. The lower part of the pyramid, which is likewise the broadest part is involved by the ones at the main trophic level, that is the producers. A higher level of the pyramid is involved by primary consumers, secondary, and then tertiary consumers.
The ecological pyramid is additionally used to make sense of how different living beings in an environment are connected with each other. The pyramid in a perfect world shows who is consumed by whom, while likewise showing the flow in which the energy streams. The progression of energy in an ecological pyramid is from base to top, and that implies energy from the autotrophs, who are likewise the essential makers, goes to the primary consumers, meaning the people who consume these plants. At the following stage, the energy goes to the secondary consumers who eat the primary consumers. 

Features of the Ecological pyramid

  • Living beings reliant upon a similar class of food-consumer connections are situated at a similar level of the pyramid.
  • The ecological pyramid situated inside the environment comprises two to four layers.
  • The producers are situated at the least level of an environmental pyramid. The number and amount of producers at this level are exceptionally high.
  • The apex predators exist at the most elevated level of an ecological pyramid. 
  • The number and amount of consumers at the most elevated level of the ecological pyramid are low.
  • The inventory of food energy steadily diminishes at the highest point of the pyramid. So, the highest point of the pyramid has a limited and sharp shape.
  • The number of living beings at the highest point of the environmental pyramid bit by bit diminishes, however, their size and volume rise.


The ecological pyramid is mainly divided into three parts.

Pyramid of Number

The ecological pyramid that is shaped by organizing the number of living creatures of various supplement levels in an ecological system is known as the pyramid of numbers. The producers are situated on the foundation of the pyramid.

Pyramid of number


The pyramid of numbers can be both upstanding and inverted. The upstanding pyramid has the largest number of makers at the base level and the quantity of creatures step by step diminishes at a higher level. In any ecological system, the pyramid of numbers in the parasitic food chain is constantly transformed. In the inverted pyramid, the number of living beings in various supplement levels starts from the earliest stage to the top step-by-step increments. As per the ecological pyramid, the number of living creatures in a trophic level relies upon the number of past supplements or nutrients. Inland ecosystems, the quantity of herbivores is not exactly that of grass plants. Since carnivores feed on herbivores, so the quantity of carnivores is lower than that of herbivores. Likewise, the quantity of carnivores at the most significant level ward on carnivores is the least,

 Pyramid of Number in Parasitic Chain


Pyramid of Biomass

The ecological pyramid that is framed by sequencing how much dry weight of various creatures as per the trophic level in an ecological system is known as a pyramid of biomass. Contingent upon the trophic level of an environment, the dry weight of various living creatures is organized in stages, with 15 to 20% of biomass per layer going to the following layer. 

Pyramid of Biomass in Grassland Ecosystem


Like a pyramid of numbers, this pyramid can be both upstanding and inverted. Forests and grasslands ecological systems are instances of upstanding biomass pyramids. The environment of the lake is an illustration of an inverted biomass pyramid. Biomass pyramids are extremely fundamental in the food chain. The size of living beings together is known as this biomass pyramid. The pyramid that demonstrates the total weight of every food layer in a specific food chain in an ecosystem is the biomass pyramid. From the primary trophic level of the food chain to the higher trophic level the biomass progressively diminishes. At the foundation of this ecological pyramid, the biomass of the producer is at the top and the biomass of the tertiary consumer is the least.  In the forest ecosystem, the biomass of the producer is most elevated and the biomass of tertiary consumers is low. The pyramid of biomass might be reversed in the aquatic ecosystem. 

Pyramid of Biomass in Aquatic Ecosystem


Pyramid of Energy

The ecological pyramid which is shaped by organizing how much energy is in various trophic levels in an environment is known as the pyramid of energy. The producers situated at the foundation of the pyramid of energy have the highest measure of energy and the trophic level at the top has the least measure of energy. 

Pyramid of Energy


The pyramid of energy is generally upstanding. This pyramid addresses the complete energy content of each trophic level in an ecological system. The foundation of this pyramid has the most measure of energy acquired from the sun. Yet, as indicated by Lindeman’s 10% regulation law, how much energy at a higher level steadily diminishes. A portion of the energy that is found in natural food is lost as heat energy in breath, some are utilized in physiological cycles, and the rest is utilized by decomposers. In the pyramid of energy, some energy is lost as energy is moved starting with one trophic level and then onto the next. Each level of this pyramid loses 60 to 90% of energy during energy moves.

Ecological Pyramid Importance

The ecological pyramid is important in a biological system and the reasons made sense underneath:

  • An ecosystem pyramid gives thought to the dietary patterns of various living creatures.
  • The ecological pyramids are the number of living creatures in an ecosystem.
  • It gives a little clarity of how much energy moved to start with one trophic level and then onto the next in the biological system.
  • It gives data about the biodiversity of a region.
  • The ecological pyramid is framed based on the food-consumer relationship. 
  • If the food chain order is annihilated, the biological pyramid will be obliterated and the entire environment will be seriously harmed.
  • It helps in keeping up with equilibrium and helps in checking the entire state of a biological ecosystem.

Ecological Pyramid Limitations

The ecological pyramid accompanies its own arrangement of constraints since it neglects several significant viewpoints. These have been talked about underneath:

  • The biological pyramid doesn’t think about saprophytes and expects them as immaterial in the environment, despite the fact that they assume a profoundly significant part in keeping up with the equilibrium of the environment.
  • There is no notice of diurnal or occasional varieties in this pyramid, the idea of environment or seasons is totally unassumed here.
  • The ecological pyramid is just relevant in the event of straightforward food chains.
  • This pyramid specifies nothing about the pace of energy move that happens from one trophic level to the next trophic level.
  • Significant sources of energy like litter and humus are totally overlooked in the ecological pyramid despite the fact that their significance in the environment is unrivaled.
  • Similar species existing at various levels in a pyramid aren’t thought about.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is Ecological Succession?


A characteristic element of biological networks is that their construction and synthesis changes. These progressions are as per certain progressions in ecological circumstances. A portion of these progressions happens in a more unsurprising. The peculiarity through which these progressions happen in biological networks is ecological succession. This is a significant part of the investigation of environment and structures at the center of biological science. Presently, any type of aggravation or arrangement of new living spaces in the biological system can set off the ecological succession.

Question 2: What is a Food chain?


A food chain is a linear sequence of creatures through which supplements and energy pass as one eats another. We should take a look at the levels of a common food chain order, beginning from the base, the producers to moving top. These food chains are then associated with making a food web. Trophic levels are the various layers inside a food web and consider the exchange of energy, including producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers.

Question 3: What is Food Web?


The food web definition in science is a chart portrayal or diagram that shows the exchange of energy through numerous various creatures in a region. Food webs are made of numerous food chains, which show the exchange of energy between one creature at each trophic level. Food webs can likewise help us study and make sense of how the variety of species is connected with how they fit inside the general food system. They may likewise uncover basic data about the connections between intrusive species and those local to a specific environment.

Question 4: What is Biomass?


Biomass is all the weight or mass of an animal at a given time in a trophic level of an ecological system. It is determined in two ways-wet biomass and dry biomass. In a biological ecosystem, some the biomass diminishes from producer to the last top apex predator of the pyramid. A biomass pyramid is a graph that looks at the biomass of various trophic levels inside a biological system.

Question 5: What is Lindeman’s 10% law says?


In 1942, Raymond Lindeman presented a hypothesis called 10% regulation to make sense of the exchange of energy. As per Lindeman, 10% of energy streams start with one trophic level and then onto the next trophic level in an ecological system. This is Lindeman’s 10% regulation. For instance, on the off chance that a bunny eats a 1000 gm of green plants, 10% or 100 gm of energy from that food is utilized for different physiological capabilities and body heat creation in the body of the hare. On the off chance that a falcon eats the hare, just 10 gm of energy will be moved to the bird of prey’s body, as per Lindeman’s 10% regulations.

Question 6: Why the Pyramid of numbers is inverted?


In any environment, the Ecological pyramid shows information from base to top. Yet, the pyramid of numbers in the parasitic food chain is inverted. Since more than one parasitic creature might be reliant upon a tree. Numerous minuscule parasites might be reliant upon every one of them. So, from the foundation of this kind of pyramid to the pinnacle, the number of living beings progressively increments at various trophic levels. This condition is known as the difference in the ecological pyramid.

Question 7: What are the types of the food chain?


In nature, the food chain is framed based on energy transmission and food-consumer connections.

As per the transmission of energy: The food chain is partitioned into two sections as indicated by the transmission of energy from producer to consumer.

  1. Grazing food chain
  2. Detritus food chain

As per the food-consumer relationship: There are three kinds of food chains in light of the food-consumer relationship. These are

  1. Predator food chain
  2. Parasitic food chain
  3. Saprophytic food chain

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