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How to read from flow chart

How to read from flow chart


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So I got the following picture and question:

a) Assume that F1 = 10 mmol h$^{-1}$ and the flow is not negative (ie f$_i$ ≥ 0, i = 1,… , 8). What is the most you can produce of the polymer DCDE (i.e. determine F$_{obj}$).?

b) What can be said about the upper and lower limits of the flow values F2,… , F8 when F$_{obj}$ is maximized?

I thought that you would want everything to flow through F4 and there onto F$_{obj}$ (where mmol h$^{-1}$ would double). However if this was true I don't understand question b, since in that case there would only be one possible flow value for F2,… ,F8.


How to Make a Biology Flow Chart

Flowcharts help to understand how a process works in steps from beginning to end. The subject of biology involves numerous complex processes that can be difficult to understand, and representing them graphically can make them much easier to grasp. A flowchart will help with the difficulty of the steps and it is easy to create as well. This article outlines a way to produce a flowchart with Microsoft Word that demonstrates the process of photosynthesis. However, once you have mastered these techniques you can produce a flowchart for any biological process.


Ultimate Flowchart Tutorial ( Complete Flowchart Guide with Examples )

So you want to learn flowcharts? Well, This flowchart tutorial will teach you all you need to know. It will cover the history of flowcharts, flowchart symbols, how to create flowcharts, flowchart best practices and we’ve also included a section to answer frequent questions about flowcharts. Best of all you can use our flowchart software to draw them.

Creately already has some really awesome articles and videos covering various things related to flowcharts like meanings of flowchart symbols, how to use swim lanes in flowcharts, flowchart best practices, case studies, and much more. This blog post will simply gather all that information and present it in a logical way. I’ve added links to different sections to make it easier to navigate. Click on the relevant link to quickly read the relevant section.

History of Flowcharts

Frank Gilberth introduced flowcharts in 1921, and they were called “Process Flow Charts” at the beginning. Allan H. Mogensen is credited with training business people on how to use flowcharts. Wikipedia has a great summary of the history of flowcharts, read more in this wiki section.

Flowchart Symbols Meaning

So what are the different symbols used in a flowchart?. Most people are only aware of basic symbols like processes and decision blocks. But there are many more symbols to make your flowchart more meaningful. The above image shows all the standard flowchart symbols.

The most common symbol used in a flowchart is the rectangle. A rectangle represents a process, operation, or a task. The next most common symbol is the diamond which is used to represent a decision.

There are many other flowchart symbols like Sequential access storage, Direct data, Manual input, etc. Check the flowchart symbols page for a detailed explanation of different symbols.

Although these are the standard symbols available in most flowchart software, some people do use different shapes for different meanings. The most common example of this is using circles to denote start and end. The examples in this flowchart tutorial will stick with the standard symbols.

How to Draw a Flowchart

How do you draw a flowchart? Well, our flowcharting tool is a good place to start. But before directly using the tool lets take a look at some basics.

There are four main types of flowcharts. Document flowchart, System flowchart, data flowchart, and program flowchart. Not everyone agrees with this categorization, but the core principals of drawing a flowchart remain the same. You need to consider a few things when drawing a flowchart, Check out 6 useful tips on drawing flowcharts before you start.

If you are drawing a flowchart with many responsible parties you can group them together using swim lanes. Swim lanes are a powerful technique to increase the readability of your flowchart so you should use them according to the situation. Read using swim lanes in flowcharts to learn more about the process.

The below video shows how to draw a flowchart using Creately. It is very simple to use and one-click create and connect helps you draw them faster as well. You can drag and drop symbols from the library or drag images to your diagram by doing an image search.

Flowchart Templates and Examples

Although you can start drawing flowcharts by scratch it is much easier to use templates. They help you reduce errors and reminds you about the best practices to follow. If you want to use a ready-made template, go to the flowchart examples section and click on the flowchart that best suits you. Click on the use at template after the image and you are ready to draw your flowchart.

Below are two templates out of hundreds of flowchart templates available to the user. Click on any of them to start drawing flowcharts immediately.

Meeting Flowchart Template (Click on the template to edit it online) Student Application Process (Click on the template to edit it online)

Flowchart Best Practices

There are a few things you can do to make your flowchart universally accepted. And there are some things that you can do to make it visually pleasing to others as well.

If you’re planning to share your flowchart or hoping to use it on a presentation etc. then it’s wise to use standard symbols. However, it is important to remember that the idea is to give out information in an easy to understand manner. It is perfectly acceptable to use an alternative image instead of the document symbol as long as the audience understands it.

Keeping the arrow flow to one side, using the same size symbols, naming the decision blocks, processes, arrows, etc. are few things you can do to make it better. The common mistakes section covers most of these practices in detail.

Common Mistakes Made when Drawing Flowcharts

This section highlights the common mistakes made when drawing flowcharts. Some of the things mentioned here are to make it better looking and more understandable, not having them in your flowchart won’t make it wrong. Since there are two posts covering these mistakes in-depth I will link to them from this flowchart tutorial.

Effective Use of Flowcharts – Case Studies

A flowchart tutorial isn’t complete without some case studies. Below are three case studies and real-life examples on how flowcharts can help you make decisions.

    – How flowcharts can be used in making business decisions and to optimize the current business processes – How to analyze the Google analytic sales funnel using a flowchart. – How one of our customers used flowcharts to enhance their processes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flowchart

The comments section of this article is full of questions. Please note that I will not draw flowcharts for specific scenarios. Below I have answered some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q 01: What is a subprocess in a flowchart?

Answer: Sometimes complex processes are broken down into smaller sub-processes for clarity. So a flowchart can point to a different sub-process within its flow. The predefined process symbol is used to show such subprocesses.

Q 02: How are flowcharts used in computer programming?

Answer: A computer program consists of many processes and flows. Flowcharts are used to visualize the processes and make them understandable for non-technical people. They are also used to visualize algorithms and comprehend pseudo-code which is used in programming.

Comments and Feedback on the Flowchart Tutorial

I hope this flowchart tutorial will help you to come up with awesome flowcharts. Flowcharts are a great way to present complex processes in a simple to understand manner and they are used all over the world in many industries. If you have a question about drawing flowcharts or have any suggestions to improve this post, feel free to mention in the comments section.

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What is a Flowchart?

In simple terms, flowchart or flow chart, is a type of diagram that describe processes. These diagrams compose of blocks, often rectangular, connected by arrows. The blocks contain information of a step in a process. In such way, flow charts help keep the information of a process clear and concise.

It's not clear who was the original inventor of flowcharts, but the first standardized documentation on flow chart was first introduced by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. In 1921, the couple presented the graphic-based method in a presentation titled: “Process Charts: First Steps in Finding the One Best Way to do Work”, to members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Learn more about Flowchart's History, Tutorial, Symbols, Tools, Flow Chart Creator, Free Online Flowchart Maker, Flowchart Software, Examples and much more in our Introduction to Flowchart.

Flowchart Symbols & Components

Flowchart is a very intuitive method to describe processes. As such, in most cases, you don’t need to worry too much about the standards and rules of all the flow chart symbols. In fact, a simple flowchart, constructed with just rectangular blocks and flowlines, can already get most jobs done.

However, if you want to get technical and precise, there are preset rules and standards you can follow. Specifically, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) set standards for flowcharts and their symbols in the 1960s. Afterwards, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted the ANSI symbols in 1970. In general, flowcharts flow from top to bottom and left to right.

For a full list of flowchart symbols, read our Guide on Flowchart Symbols

What is a Flowchart used for?

Flowchart is a very versatile tool that can be used to:

  • Document a process
  • Present a solution
  • Brainstorm an idea
  • Design a system
  • Explain a decision making process
  • Store information

About Zen Flowchart

Zen Flowchart is the simplest online software to create flowcharts, flow chart, org charts, process charts, sitemaps, and more. With a minimal and intuitive user interface, creating diagrams with our online flowchart maker is easy and delightful. Our simple free flowchart maker also has Export and Publish features, which allow users to easily share their work. Try our free flowchart creator now!

How to use Zen Flowchart?

At Zen Flowchart, we pride ourselves in having the most intuitive, easy-to-use flow chart maker on the market. And as such, we hope you’ll be able to create flow charts with our tool without much help.

However, here’s a quick guide on the main features to get you started. Let us know if you have any issues by emailing us at [email protected]

How to Create a Flowchart?

Step 1: Map out major steps

Start with a piece of paper, or a free flow chart creator like Zen Flowchart. Next, draw several major blocks that represent the most important steps in your process. Don’t worry about the details for now. Because flow charts are read left to right and top to bottom, start your first node at the top left corner of your workspace.

Step 2: Key in details of your flowchart

Fill in the remaining steps. We recommend working in the natural order of the process. An optional step here is to style your chart with different shapes and color to make it easier to follow.

Step 3: Test your chart

Work through all the steps in your chart to make sure they are clear and exhaustive, and that there is no open-ended node remained.

Step 4: Gather feedback & share

Share a draft of the flowchart and get feedback from the intended users to improve upon it. Flowcharts should be made easily accessible to all parties involved. So make sure you publish your work in the right place. Our online flowchart maker Zen Flowchart has a handy publishing feature, which allows you to publish and share your flowcharts. Any future updates you make to the document will automatically be updated.


The term "diagram" in its commonly used sense can have a general or specific meaning:

  • visual information device : Like the term "illustration", "diagram" is used as a collective term standing for the whole class of technical genres, including graphs, technical drawings and tables.
  • specific kind of visual display : This is the genre that shows qualitative data with shapes that are connected by lines, arrows, or other visual links.

In science the term is used in both ways. For example, Anderson (1997) stated more generally: "diagrams are pictorial, yet abstract, representations of information, and maps, line graphs, bar charts, engineering blueprints, and architects' sketches are all examples of diagrams, whereas photographs and video are not". [3] On the other hand, Lowe (1993) defined diagrams as specifically "abstract graphic portrayals of the subject matter they represent". [4]

In the specific sense diagrams and charts contrast with computer graphics, technical illustrations, infographics, maps, and technical drawings, by showing "abstract rather than literal representations of information". [5] The essence of a diagram can be seen as: [5]

  • a form of visual formatting devices
  • a display that does not show quantitative data (numerical data), but rather relationships and abstract information
  • with building blocks such as geometrical shapes connected by lines, arrows, or other visual links.

Or in Hall's (1996) words "diagrams are simplified figures, caricatures in a way, intended to convey essential meaning". [6] These simplified figures are often based on a set of rules. The basic shape according to White (1984) can be characterized in terms of "elegance, clarity, ease, pattern, simplicity, and validity". [5] Elegance is basically determined by whether or not the diagram is "the simplest and most fitting solution to a problem". [7]


10 Interesting Flowchart Examples for Students

Creating funny flowchart examples for students is a smart and quick way to arouse their interest and catch their eyes in class.

The following are some interesting flowchart examples from daily life for students that can be understood effortlessly.

  • Should I do My Homework Now?
  • What Kind of TV Should I Watch?
  • What to Eat for Lunch on Sunday?
  • Choose Your Favorite Fruit
  • Should I Say Hi When I Forgot a Person's Name?
  • How to Divide the Age Bracket?
  • Should I Listen to My Mom?
  • Did I Pass the Test?
  • Am I Admitted to No.1 High School?
  • Shopping for New Dresses
  • How to Create a Cool Flowchart?

Should I do My Homework Now?

This funny flowchart vividly shows that doing homework is an unavoidable and annoying thing for almost all the students. They usually never do it until the last minute.

What Kind of TV Should I Watch?

Watching TV is an everyday entertainment activity after school, but it is hard to choose what kind of TV to watch cause there are so many types of TV plays. The flowchart below graphically depicts the dilemma.

What to Eat for Lunch on Sunday?

This flowchart vividly describes a typical Sunday when your mom is not at home, and you have no idea about what to have for lunch.

Choose Your Favorite Fruit

What's your favorite fruit? Create a flowchart like the below to find out your answer.

Should I Say Hi When I Forgot a Person's Name?

There are so many students in a class. It isn't effortless for you to remember all of the names in a short time. This flowchart tells you what to do in an awkward situation when you meet someone but forget his name.

How to Divide the Age Bracket?

The easiest way to define the age bracket is by drawing a flowchart and input the information you want. Then, you will find how fast it is to figure out the categories of ages.

Should I Listen to My Mom?

Sometimes, moms expect their kids to be obedient and listen to them. However, not everything in her life turns out the way she wanted.

Did I Pass the Test?

Are you still wondering about the test result? Draw a flowchart like below and input your score, then you can know whether you get Excellent, Great, Good, or just pass the exam.

Am I Admitted to No.1 High School?

Entering into the best high school is the dream of students. This simple flowchart shows you the basic requirements of going to No.1 High School. Students can make out the study plans according to their situation.

Shopping for New Dresses

This flowchart vividly depicts the process when a girl is choosing her favorite dress from a boutique. Besides, you can also apply this flowchart in many other situations.

Are you interested in creating such funny flowcharts? Download Edraw Flowchart Maker and create your own right now!


How to Modify for Special Education

Supporting kids with special needs works best when both regular education and special education staff work together. That’s why it is helpful for all teachers to understand how they can modify and accommodate for students in their classrooms. For newer teachers, learning that you need to modify work for kids of various levels can be a bit overwhelming. Even teacher who are highly experienced might struggle with how much to modify. It’s really a balance because you are constantly trying to find out what is “just tough enough” to push your students, with it still being at an appropriate level that can help them grow. Too easy and the work doesn’t really challenge them. Too difficult and kids might shut down, causing them to not learn anything at all. It’s okay (and actually good) to fine-tune your level of modifications over time.

Most importantly, if a child requires a modification according to their IEP, the teacher needs to provide it. The IEP is a legal document and those modifications and accommodations were agreed upon the child’s planning team. Some modifications are specifically listed, such as having a word bank or being able to use a calculator. Other times, modifications are left up to the discretion of the teacher. If there is something you are unsure about in the child’s list of modifications, talk to the spec

ial education teacher and get further clarification.

Here is a quick reference list for some ideas to pull from when you need to modify for a child’s assessment, homework, or other assignment:

Reduce the Workload:

  • Assign even or odd problems only – This is a great strategy for homework. It’s simple and quick for the teacher, but still gives the child similar practice to everyone else.
  • Select specific problems and omit extra ones
  • Give 1 essay question instead of 3 or 4
  • Give choice – Let the student select 10 problems to do or let them pick whether to do the front or back of a worksheet. This will help with motivation, too, since the child sees they have a choice in the assignment.
  • Put fewer problems on each page – This will be less visually distracting.
  • For matching, reduce the number of items to match or break them in half
  • Reduce the number of multiple choices – There will be less to select from. For example, if everyone else has a quiz with 4 possible multiple choice answers, your student might only have 2 or 3 options to choose from.
  • Eliminate true or false questions – These questions can be extremely tricky, especially for kids with language-based disorders.

Modify the Content:

  • Give a similar but different assignment with lower grade level material in area of weakness (math, reading, or writing) – For example: if the topic is computing with fractions, the student might be drawing fraction pictures. This will also help you target the “most important” concepts for the child to learn at the time.
  • Provide an alternative assignment – This can be a research project, hands-on project, lab experiment, or making a poster to show understanding of a topic.
  • Align student interest to the content – For example, you might focus on reading strategies while learning about trains.

Provide Supports:

  • Give a word bank for fill in the blank or when writing an essay
  • Allow students to type or orally report their responses
  • Give a specific list for steps to complete a task
  • Provide concept cards with an assignment
  • Allow the student to use their book or notes
  • Provide specific examples
  • Highlight tricky or key words in questions
  • Allow extra time
  • Allow student to work in quieter setting
  • Allow calculators
  • Allow for brainstorming prior to the assignment
  • Have adult read assignment to student

Learning to modify can be hard work at first. It’s best to give it a try even if you are not entirely sure it’s the right modification. Remember that you can always tweak your modifications as the year goes on. Most likely, you will need to continually reassess modifications and supports, since your students will be growing and making progress. And when in doubt, work with your special education staff to ask for feedback, support, and ideas.

If you are a special education teacher in need of a toolkit, consider the Special Education Teacher Binder. It is a huge compilation of special education resources. Materials focus on IEPs and team meetings, progress monitoring of academics and behavior, classroom materials, building a classroom community, planning, lessons, organization, and other forms to help make the life of a special education teacher a little bit easier.


Ecosystem (With Diagram)

Read this article to learn about the Ecosystem:- Read this article to learn about:- 1. Definition of Ecosystem 2. Classification of Ecosystem 3. Components of Ecosystem 4. Structure of an Ecosystem 5. Functions 6. Types.

Definition of Ecosystem:

The term Ecology (Greek Oikos-house, logos-study) was coined by German biologist Ernst Haeckel in 1869.

Ecology deals with the study of interactions between living organisms and their physical environment.

Now ecology is defined as the study of ecosystems. The term ecosystem was proposed by A.C. Tansley in 1935 where eco implies the environment and system denotes an interacting, interdependent, integrated complex.

Ecosystem may be defined as the system resulting from the integration of all living and non-living factors of the environment. Thus any structural and functional unit of biosphere where the organisms interact with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity and material cycle (i.e., exchange of materials between living and non-living components) within the system is known as an ecological system or ecosystem.

Earth is a giant ecosystem where abiotic and biotic components are constantly acting and reacting with each other bringing structural and functional changes in it. This vast ecosystem-biosphere is subdivided into units of smaller ecosystems such as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

These systems may be freely exchanging energy and matter from outside—an open ecosystem or may be isolated from outside—a closed ecosystem.

An ecosystem is normally an open system with a continuous but variable influx and loss of material and energy. It is a basic, functional unit with no limits of boundaries.

Thus an ecosystem represents the highest level of ecological integration which is energy based and this functional unit is capable of energy transformation, accumulation and circulation. Its main function in ecological sense is to emphasize obligatory relationships, interdependence and casual relations.

Classification of Ecosystems

1. Natural Ecosystems (Self-operating):

These systems operate by themselves under natural conditions without any major interference by man.

These are further divided into following ecosystems:

(i) Terrestrial ecosystem includes forests, grasslands and deserts etc.

(ii) Aquatic ecosystem may be further distinguished as

(a) Fresh water which may be lotic (running water as springs, streams or rivers) or lentic (standing water as lakes, ponds, pools, ditches, puddles, swamps etc.).

(b) Marine water such as oceans (deep bodies) or seas or estuaries (shallow ones).

2. Artificial (Man-engineered) Ecosystems:

These are maintained artificially by man where, by addition of energy and planned manipulations, natural balance is disturbed regularly. Crop, urban, industrial, space and control of biotic community as well as the physico-chemical environment are man-engineered ecosystems.

3. Space Ecosystem is also recognised as one of ecosystems and play a very important role in human life.

The common features of all ecosystems — terrestrial, aquatic and agricultural are the interactions of the autotrophic and heterotrophic components.

Components of Ecosystem:

An ecosystem has two major components—biotic and abiotic.

(A) Biotic (Living) Components:

Plants, animals and micro-organisms having different nutritional behaviour constitute the biotic components of an ecosystem.

1. Producers (or Autotrophs-Self nourishing):

Producers are mainly chlorophyll bearing green plants (photo autotrophs) which can synthesize their food in presence of sunlight making use of CO2 and water through the process of photosynthesis. Since plants convert solar energy into chemical energy so they must be better called converters or transducers. Chemosynthetic organisms or chemo-autotrophs can also synthesize some organic matter by the oxidation of certain chemicals in absence of sunlight.

2. Consumers (or Heterotrophs or Phagotrophs):

Consumers consume the matter built up by the producers. They utilise, rearrange and decompose complex materials.

[Note: The major autotrophic metabolism occurs in the upper green belt stratum where solar energy is available while the intense heterotrophic metabolism occurs in the lower brown belt where organic matter accumulates in soil and sediments.]

Consumers are of the following types:

They feed directly on producers and hence are known as primary consumers, e.g., rabbit, deer, cattle, insects etc. Elton (1927) called herbivores as key industry animals because they convert plants into animal materials.

(ii) Carnivores (Meat eaters):

They feed on other consumers. If they feed on herbivores, they are called secondary consumers (e.g., frog, birds, cat) and if they prey on other carnivores (snake, peacock), they are known as tertiary carnivores/consumers. Lion, tiger etc. which cannot be preyed are called top carnivores since they occupy top position in the food chain.

They feed both on plants and animals, e.g., rat, fox, birds and man.

(iv) Detritivores (Detritus feeders or saprotrophs):

They feed on partially decomposed matter such as termites, ants, crabs, earthworms etc.

3. Decomposers (or Micro-consumers):

Decomposers are saprophytic (osmotrophs) micro-organisms such as bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi. They derive their nutrition by breaking down complex organic compounds and release inorganic nutrients into environment, making them available again to producers.

The biotic components of any ecosystem may be thought of as the functional kingdom of nature, since they are based on the type of nutrition and the energy source used. The entire earth is considered as an ecosystem which is referred to as biosphere or ecosphere.

(B) Abiotic (Non-living) Components:

Structurally abiotic components include:

1. Climatic regime:

Precipitation, temperature, sunlight, intensity of solar flux, wind etc. have a strong influence on the ecosystem.

2. Inorganic substances:

These are C, N, H, O, P, S involved in material cycles. The amount of these substances present in an ecosystem is known as standing state or standing quality.

3. Organic Substances:

Carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and humic substances link the abiotic components with the biotic components. All the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem are influenced by each other and are linked together through energy flow and matter cycling.

Structure of an Ecosystem:

The structure of an ecosystem is characterised by the composition and organisation of biotic communities and abiotic components.

The major structural features of an ecosystem are:

1. Species Composition:

Every ecosystem has its own type of species composition which differs from other ecosystems.

2. Stratification:

The organisms in each ecosystem form one or more layers or strata each comprising the population of particular kind of species. In some ecosystems like tropical rain forests, the crown of trees, bushes and ground vegetation form different strata and are occupied by different species. On the other hand, desert ecosystem shows a low discontinuous herbal layer consisting of extensive bare patches of soil.

3. The quantity and distribution of non-living materials such as nutrients and water etc.

4. The range or gradient of conditions of existence such as temperature and light etc.

Functions of an Ecosystem:

Every ecosystem performs under natural conditions in a delicately balanced and systematic controlled manner. Functionally, the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystem are so interwoven into the fabric of nature that their separation from each other is practically very difficult.

The producers, green plants, fix radiant energy and with the help of minerals (C, H, O, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Fe etc.) taken from the soil and aerial environment (nutrient pool) they build up complex organic matter (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, nucleic acids etc.). Herbivores feed on plants and in turn serve as food for carnivores. Decomposers breakdown complex organic materials into simple inorganic products which can be used by the producers.

The two ecological processes of energy flow and nutrient cycling, involving interaction between the physico-chemical environment and the biotic communities constitute the heart of the ecosystem dynamics (Fig. 1).

The major functional features of an ecosystem are as follows:

A. Trophic Structure:

The trophic structure of an ecosystem is a kind of producer-consumer arrangement and their interaction with population size. Each food level is known as trophic level and the amount of living matter at each trophic level at a given time is known as standing crop or standing biomass. In the ecosystem various trophic levels are connected through food chain.

The transfer of food energy from the producers, through a series of organisms (herbivores to carnivores to decomposers) with repeated eating and being eaten, is known as food chain. All organisms, living or dead, are potential food for some other organisms, hence there is no waste in the functioning of a natural ecosystem.

Some examples of simple food chain are:

It starts from green plants (primary producers), goes to grazing herbivores and culminates to carnivores (Fig. 2). The chain thus depends on autotrophic energy capture and movement of this captured energy to carnivores. Examples constitute sequence of

(b) Detritus food chain:

It starts from dead organic matter and passes through micro-organisms to detritivores (organisms feeding on detritus), their predators and decomposers. The ecosystems exhibiting detritus food chain are less dependent on direct solar energy. These depend chiefly on the influx of organic matter produced in another ecosystem. Such type of food chain operates in the decomposing accumulated litter in a temperate forest.

A good example of detritus food chain (Fig. 3) is seen in a Mangrove (estuary). Mangrove leaf fragments acted on by saprotrophs (fungi, bacteria), colonized by algae are eaten by detritus consumers (crabs, shrimps, nematodes, molluscs etc.). These are, in turn, eaten by minnows and small carnivorous fish which serve as the food for large game fish and birds.

Thus the grazing food chain derives its energy from plants while in detritus food chain energy is obtained primarily from plant biomass, secondarily from microbial biomass and tertiary from carnivores. Both the food chains occur together in natural ecosystems but the grazing food chain usually predominates.

(ii) Food Web-Interlocking Pattern of Organisms:

Food chains in ecosystems are rarely found to operate in isolated linear sequence. Rather, they are interconnected with several linkages forming a complex network of interlocking pattern which is referred to as food web. Thus, food web is a network of food chains where different types of organisms are interconnected with each other at different trophic levels so that there are a number of options of eating and being eaten at each trophic level.

An example of food web is illustrated by the unique Antarctic ecosystem (Fig. 4). It represents the total ecosystem including the Antarctic sea and the continental land. The land does not show any higher life forms of plants. The only species are those of some algae, lichens and mosses. The animals include snow petrel and penguins which depend on the aquatic food chain. In a tropical region, on the other hand, the ecosystems have a rich species diversity and therefore, the food webs are much more complex.

Why has nature evolved food webs in ecosystem instead of simple linear food chains? This is because food webs give greater stability to the ecosystem. In a linear food chain, if one species becomes extinct then the species in the subsequent trophic levels are also affected. Just consider the simple food chains of Arctic Tundra ecosystem.

If due to some stress, the population of reindeer or caribou falls, it will leave little option for man or wolf to feed from the ecosystem. Had there been more biodiversity, it would have led to complex food web giving the ecosystem more stability. In a food web, there are a number of options available to each trophic level.

So, if one species is affected, it does not alter other trophic levels so seriously. For instance, in grazing food chain of a grassland, in the absence of rabbit, grass may be eaten by mouse, which in turn, may be eaten by hawk or snake (Fig 5.)

Besides those shown in Fig. 5, there may also be present some other consumers as vultures, fox and man in grasslands, and if so, the food web may be even more complex than shown here. In fact, real food webs usually have hundreds of species interlinked according to their feeding habits.

The complexity of any food web depends upon the diversity of organisms in the system.

It would accordingly depend upon:

1. Length of the food chain:

More diverse the organisms in food habits, longer would be the food chain.

2. Alternatives at different levels of consumers in the chain:

More the alternatives, more would be the interlocking pattern.

Significance of Food Chains and Food Webs:

1. Food chains and food webs play a very significant role in the ecosystem because the most important functions of energy flow and nutrient cycles take place through them.

2. Food chains help in maintaining and regulating the ecological balance.

3. Food chains show a unique property of biological magnification of several pesticides and heavy metals which are non-biodegradable in nature. Such chemicals increase in concentration at each successive trophic level.

B. Ecological Pyramids:

Graphic representation of trophic structure and functions of an ecosystem, starting with producers at the base and successive trophic levels (herbivores -> carnivores) forming the apex is known as ecological pyramid. These were first devised by British ecologist Charles Elton (1927) and so are also known as Eltonion pyramids.

Ecological pyramids are of three types:

It represents the number of individual organisms at each trophic level. There may be upright or inverted pyramid of numbers depending upon the type of ecosystem and food chain as shown in Fig. 6. A grassland ecosystem [Fig. 6(a)] and a pond ecosystem [Fig. 6(b)] shows an upright pyramid of numbers. In grassland, the producers (grasses) are very large in number and form a broad base.

The primary consumers (herbivores like rabbit, mice), secondary consumers (snakes, lizards etc.) and tertiary consumers (hawks or other birds) gradually decrease in number, hence the pyramid apex becomes narrower forming an upright pyramid. Similar is the case with pond ecosystem. Here the producers, mainly phytoplanktons such as algae and bacteria, are maximum in number. The carnivores (small fish, beetles etc.) and top carnivores (large fish) decrease in number at higher trophic levels forming an upright pyramid of numbers.

In a forest ecosystem, the producers are big trees which are less in number and hence form a narrow base. A large number of herbivores including birds, insects and several species of animals feed upon trees and form a much broad middle level. The secondary consumers like fox, snakes, lizards etc. are less in number than herbivores while top carnivores such as lion, tiger are still less in number. So the pyramid is spindle-shaped, i.e., narrow on both sides and broader in the middle [Fig. 6(c)].

Parasitic food chain shows an inverted pyramid of numbers. The producers like a few big trees harbour fruit eating birds acting as herbivores which are larger in number. A much higher number of lice, bugs etc. grow as ectoparasites on these birds while a still greater number of hyperparasites such as bugs, fleas and microbes feed upon them, thus making an inverted pyramid [Fig. 6(d)],

Note that the pyramids of numbers do not reflect a true picture of the food chain as they are not very functional. They do not indicate the relative effects of the geometry, food chain and size factors of the organisms. They vary with different communities with different types of food chains in the same environment.

These are comparatively more fundamental since instead of geometric factor, they show quantitative relationship of the standing crops. Pyramid of biomass is based upon the total biomass (dry matter per unit area) at each trophic level in a food chain. In a forest, the pyramid of biomass is upright in contrast to its pyramid of numbers.

This is because the producers (trees) accumulate a huge biomass while the consumers total biomass feeding on them declines at higher trophic levels resulting in broad base and narrowing top [Fig. 7(a)], In a pond ecosystem, the total biomass of producers (phytoplanktons) is much less as compared to herbivores (zooplanktons, insects), carnivores (small fish) or tertiary carnivores (large fish). Thus the pyramid takes an inverted shape with narrow base and broad apex [Fig. 7(b)].

Pyramid of energy is based on the amount of energy trapped per unit time and area in different trophic levels of a food chain. It gives the best representation of the trophic relationships and is always upright (Fig. 8). The energy content is generally expressed as kJ/m 2 /yr. At each successive trophic level, there is sharp decline in energy (about 90% in the form of heat and respiration) as we move from producers to top carnivores. Thus only 10% of the energy passes on at each next higher level forming an upright pyramid.

C. Energy Flow in an Ecosystem:

The functioning of ecosystem depends on the flow of energy through matter. The most important feature of energy flow is that it is unidirectional or one way flow. The energy captured by autotrophs does not revert back to solar input.

Unlike nutrients (like C, N, P) which move in a cyclic manner and are reused by the producers after flowing through the food chain, energy is not reused in the food chain. Also the flow of energy follows the two laws of thermodynamics.

First law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form into another. The solar energy captured by the green plants (producers) gets converted into biochemical energy of plants and later into that of consumers.

Second law of thermodynamics states that every transformation or transfer of energy is accompanied by its dispersion. As energy flows through the food chain, there occurs dissipation of energy at every trophic level. The loss of energy takes place through respiration or other metabolic activities. At every trophic level there is about 90% loss of energy and the energy transferred from one trophic level to the other is only 10%.

Types of Major Ecosystems:

Various types of ecosystems operate as self-sufficient interacting systems in the biosphere. They have, more or less, similar fundamental plan of their gross structure and function but they differ in respect of their species composition and rates in production etc.

1. Land-Based Ecosystem:

Land (terrestrial) ecosystem depends largely on the climate and soil. Higher plants (seed plants) and animals (vertebrates, insects, micro-organisms) dominate on land. The major terrestrial communities consist of herbaceous plants, shrubs, grass, trees besides numerous insects, arthropods, birds etc. Forest ecosystem regulates exchange of atmospheric gases and trace elements.

2. Fresh Water Ecosystem:

Fresh water bodies (lakes, ponds, rivers, springs) are rich in nutrients (nitrates, phosphates) and provide good habitat for zooplanktons, phytoplanktons, aquatic plants and fishes.

3. Marine Ecosystem:

Oceans occupy 70% of the earth surface, offering habitat to numerous plants (mainly algae), animals like zooplanktons, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals (whales and seals). They serve as the sink for a large quantity of run-off and wastes from land. Marine water has a high salt content and poor fertility due to lack of nitrates and phosphates as compared to fresh water.

4. Wet Land Ecosystem:

Wet lands are transitional lands between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems where water stands at 3 to 300 cm. These include valuable natural ecosystem harbouring a variety of plants, animals, fishes and micro-organisms. At present, they are in danger due to increasing urbanization as in the case of eastern part of Kolkata.

5. Mangroves (Forests between Land and Sea):

Mangroves are important forests in tidal zones or equatorial and tropical coasts. Sunderbans in the Gangetic estuarine delta near the Bay of Bengal offer valuable mangroves having several plant species and wild animals including Royal Bengal Tiger.


Symbol Purpose Description
Flow line Indicates the flow of logic by connecting symbols.
Terminal(Stop/Start) Represents the start and the end of a flowchart.
Input/Output Used for input and output operation.
Processing Used for arithmetic operations and data-manipulations.
Decision Used for decision making between two or more alternatives.
On-page Connector Used to join different flowline
Off-page Connector Used to connect the flowchart portion on a different page.
Predefined Process/Function Represents a group of statements performing one processing task.

Examples of flowcharts in programming

1. Add two numbers entered by the user.

Flowchart to add two numbers

2. Find the largest among three different numbers entered by the user.

Flowchart to find the largest among three numbers.

3. Find all the roots of a quadratic equation ax 2 +bx+c=0

Flowchart to find roots of a quadratic equation

4. Find the Fibonacci series till term≤1000.

Flowchart fo display the Fibonacci Series

Note: Though flowcharts can be useful for writing and analyzing a program, drawing a flowchart for complex programs can be more complicated than writing the program itself. Hence, creating flowcharts for complex programs is often ignored.


Process Flowcharts: An Essential Start to Business Process Management

Creating process flowcharts, while useful for introspection, is only a start.

You need to analyze the process, figure out potential improvements, implement them, and so on. After all, you really don’t get much by simply drawing the flowchart.

To learn how to do all this and more, check out our guide on Business Process Management. And no, it’s not just another buzzword-definition article – we’re going to explain how, exactly, BPM can help you optimizes your processes.



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