Food Chain: The linear sequence of organisms where one is consumed by the other for food is known as a food chain. Fundamentally the food chain is the sequence of organisms where the transfer of matter and energy takes place in the form of food from organism to organism. It signifies the interaction & interdependency of organisms for food and survival. In an ecosystem, the length and complexity of food chains vary greatly. In this article, we will discuss the definition, types & examples of the food chain and will also know about trophic levels and energy flow. Read on to know more!
What Is The Food Chain?
A food chain is a sequence of organisms through which nutrients and energy is transferred in the form of food from organism to organism. The food chain describes who eats whom for survival in an ecosystem. The food chain is also the pathway for the transfer of energy in an ecosystem. The energy is produced by the ‘Producers’ and is transferred to the ‘Consumers’ and thereafter to ‘Decomposers’.
Examples Of Food Chain
The food chain will vary for different ecosystems. let’s go through some examples of the food chain from below:
Food Chain In a Forest: The producers in a forest ecosystem are plants & trees. The Deer feeds on plants and a carnivore such as tiger feeds on a deer.
Plants —> Deer —> Tiger
Food Chain In a Grassland: In a grassland ecosystem, grass produces its own food from sunlight. A grasshopper feeds on grass and a frog feeds on a grasshopper. Thereafter, in the chain, a snake feeds on a frog and an eagle feeds on a snake.
Grass —> Grasshopper —> Frog —> Snake —> Eagle
Food Chain In a Pond: The producers in the pond ecosystem can be algae or aquatic plants which are consumed by small insects or small fishes. These small insects or fishes are food for large fishes. Thereafter, fish-eating birds or animals will consume large fishes forming a chain.
Algae —> Small Fishes —> large Fishes —> Fish Eating Birds
Each step or level of the food chain forms a trophic level. The autotrophs or the producers are the first at the trophic level. Thereafter, Primary consumers and Secondary Consumers follow. The last trophic level is that of the decomposers. These tropic levels help us understand the food chain and transfer of energy in various trophic levels.
Producers: The organisms which produce their own food through photosynthesis are categorised as producers. All the green plants and few other organisms are classified as producers. The producers utilise solar energy and convert them into nutrients. Producers are also called autotrophs as they prepare their own food. Producers make up the first level in the food chain.
Consumers: Consumers are organisms that are dependent on green plants or other autotrophs for food. The herbivores feed upon green plants and are called the primary consumers. Thereafter, the carnivores eat the herbivores, parasites that live on other organisms by extracting nutrients from the host and lastly the scavengers, which are animals that eat dead animals are part of secondary consumers.
Decomposers: Decomposers are the organism which derives nutrients for survival from the dead and decaying organic matter. Decomposers are the last trophic level of the food chain. They convert the organic matter into inorganic materials which provides nutrition to green plants.
Types of Food Chain
Food Chain can be broadly classified into two types namely, ‘Detritus Food Chain’ and ‘Grazing Food Chain’. Let’s go through the details from below:
- Detritus Food Chain: The detritus food chain begins with dead organic matter. Several organisms and plants like algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, mites, insects, worms, etc are part of this food chain. The decomposers are at the starting level of this food chain. Organisms like fungi, bacteria, protozoans, etc become the primary consumers followed by larger organisms such as maggots. The secondary consumers are the bigger carnivores like frogs, snakes, etc. Thereafter, other bigger organisms feed upon them to become a part of the chain.
- Grazing Food Chain: The grazing food chain starts with the green plants as the producers. the cycle thereafter passes trough the herbivores to the carnivores. The energy in the lowest level of the grazing food chain is acquired through photosynthesis.
|Learn About Detritus Food Chain|
|Learn About Grazing Food Chain|
In an ecosystem, several food chains exist. Several interconnected food chains form a food web. In an ecosystem, an organism can be prey to several other organisms and at the same time can be a predator for several other organisms. Due to this, many trophic levels get interconnected forming a complex food web.
Energy Flow In Ecosystem
Transfer of energy happens at every trophic level. In a terrestrial ecosystem, green plants capture about 1% of the energy of sunlight that falls on their leaves and converts it into food energy. Thereafter, the energy is further transferred to each trophic level. However, at each trophic level, there is a loss of energy in the form of heat to the environment. 10% can be taken as the average value for the amount of organic matter that is present at each step and reaches the next level of consumers. As the energy loss is huge at each step, the food chains generally consist of only three or four steps.
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FAQs On Food Chain
Let’s go through the frequently asked questions from below:
|Q. What food chain are humans in? |
A. Humans are said to be at the top of the food chain as we eat different types of plants and animals and are not consistently eaten by another animal.
|Q. What is the difference between a food chain and a food web? |
A. Food Chain is a linear sequence where the trophic levels are well defined. Whereas, the food web is a complex interconnection of the food web.
|Q. What are animals called in a food chain? |
A. In general, animals are the consumers in the food chain. The herbivores are the primary consumers and the carnivores are the secondary consumers.
|Q. What is a trophic level?|
A. Each step or level of the food chain forms a trophic level
We hope this article has helped you. If you have any questions feel free to post in the comment section below. We will get back to you at the earliest.Final CODE TO place on Article 1789 Views