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Other than eating just plant material, what other routes would enable an omnivore to...

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catlover | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted October 10, 2011 at 10:29 AM via web

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Other than eating just plant material, what other routes would enable an omnivore to obtain equal amounts of the sun's energy?

Suppose an omnivore can obtain all the nutritional requirements necessary for life by eating either plant material or animal material. From an energetic's standpoint, the route that would allow the omnivore to capture the greater amount of the sun's energy would be by eating plant material. So, this question is asking what other routes an omnivore might take to obtain the same energy they would get from eating just plant material.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:52 PM (Answer #1)

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For an omnivore, eating plant material is the most efficient way to gather the sun's energy.  The plant has directly processed that energy and will then pass it on to the omnivore with little energy loss.  From an energetics's standpoint, the omnivore could obtain the same amount of energy by eating more animal material.  The animal material is a less efficient way of gathering the sun's energy.  The eaten animal has already taken the directly processed energy from the plants it ate.  Now the omnivore is introducing a type of 'middle man' between the original plant and himself.  The omnivore could obtain the same amount of energy as consuming plant materials by eating more animal materials but it would be far less energy efficient.  Most omnivores strike a balance between the energy efficiency of plant materials and the nutrient value of animal materials.

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