The sun’s energy is absorbed by photosyntheic organisms (plants and algae), which is then eaten by herbivores, thus transfering that energy to them. The energy is then transferred to “secondary consumers” or carnivores that eat herbivores. Sometimes the energy stops there, but other times the energy is transferred again to “tertiary consumers”, or carnivores that eat other carnivores. Detrivores are organisms that consume the remains of organic matter, like corpses and excrement (yuck). As energy goes up the pyramid, each level absorbes a fraction of the energy that the previous level consumed.
An energy pyramid is the same as an ecological pyramid or, essentially, a food chain — the transfer of energy from producers to primary then secondary consumers is everywhere in nature. The size of the different blocks (primary producer, primary consumer, etc.) refers to the total biomass of the species in each category.
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