Food Chain and Food Web Explained

BALANCE IN ECOSYSTEM

  • A balanced ecosystem is an ecological community together with its environment and functioning as a complex unit.
  • An ecosystem is maintained by the balance in nature such as the balance between hawks and mice, if the hawk population is larger than the mice population, then it is not balanced.
  • They are balanced between resources like a banana tree and monkeys.
  • If the banana trees stop growing, the monkeys won’t get bananas.
  • An ecosystem maintains the balance between the number of resources and the number of or the balance between prey and predators.

FOOD CHAIN AND FOOD WEB

  • The ultimate source of this energy is the sun.
  • Producers like green plants trap solar energy and convert it into the chemical energy of food.
  • When a primary consumer eats the producer, a part of this energy is passed on to it.
  • The primary consumer is then eaten by a secondary consumer.
  • And the secondary consumer may be eaten by a tertiary consumer, and so on.
  • In this way energy gets transferred from one consumer to the next higher level of consumer.
  • A series of organisms through which food energy flows in an ecosystem is called a food chain.

It may also be defined as follows.

The sequence of living organisms in a community in which one organism consumes another organism to transfer food energy, is called a food chain.

A food chain in a grassland ecosystem

  • In a forest ecosystem, grass is eaten by a deer, which in turn is eaten by a tiger.
  • The grass, deer and tiger form a food chain.
  • In this food chain, energy flows from the grass (producer) to the deer (primary consumer) to the tiger (secondary consumer)
  • A food chain in a grassland ecosystem may consist of grasses and other plants, grasshoppers, frogs, snakes and hawks

In a freshwater aquatic ecosystem like a pond, the organisms in the food chain include algae, small animals, insects and their larvae, small fish, big fish and a fish-eating bird or animal.

  • A food chain always begins with producers.
  • Herbivores (plant-eaters) come next in the chain.
  • They are consumed by carnivores (flesh-eaters).
  • A few food chains can be long and may extend to the fourth, fifth or even sixth order of consumers.

Some common food chains are mentioned below:

  • Plants> Deer> Lion
  • Plants >Worm> Bird> Cat
  • Plants >Grasshopper- Frog- Snake- Hawk
  • Algae> Small animal >Small fish> Big fish-> Bird

FOOD WEB

  • A food web is a graphical depiction of feeding connections among species of an ecological community.
  • Food web consists of food chains of a particular ecosystem.
  • The food web is an illustration of various methods of feeding that links the ecosystem.
  • The food web also defines the energy flow through species of a community as a result of their feeding relationships.
  • All the food chains are interconnected and overlapping within an ecosystem and they make up a food web.
  • It increases the stability of the ecosystem. It provides another source of food and allows the endangered species to grow.
  • Thus interconnected food chains operating in an ecosystem which establish a network of relationships between various species, is called a food web.

Food Web

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