What is Food chain & Food web

No matter where on earth you go, living things are connected to each other. From the tiniest of organisms to the largest of creatures, all living things need the energy to survive. So where does that energy come from? Well, matter and energy pass from one organism to another, connecting living things like links in a chain: a food chain! Of course, a food chain is not an actual chain. It’s a way to talk about the relationships between organisms and show how matter and energy flow between living things. Every living thing on earth is part of a food chain, including you, and most things are part of more than one. All of the energy in the earth’s food chains comes from the sun. The sun’s energy reaches the earth as light and heat, and plants capture some of it and convert it into food through photosynthesis. Because plants make or produce, their own food from the sun’s energy, they are called producers. Every food chain must begin with a producer – for example, grass. That’s because animals cannot create their own food. They must eat, or consume, energy from other sources. That’s why animals are called ‘consumers.’ The second link in a food chain is a consumer that eats plants – a herbivore. When an animal eats plants, some of the energy the plant captured from the sun is transferred into the animal’s body, where it is used for things like moving, breathing, and growing.

A herbivore is called a primary consumer. ‘Primary’ means ‘first,’ because an animal eating plants is the first consumer in the food chain. Let’s add a rabbit to our food chain. Next comes a secondary consumer, the second consumer in the food chain. This consumer is a carnivore and gets their energy by eating other animals. Maybe our rabbit will get eaten by a fox. When the fox eats the rabbit, part of the energy that the rabbit got from the grass is transferred to the fox. This is the end of this simple food chain. The rabbit eats the grass, then the fox eats the rabbit. The energy that came from the sun is captured by the grass, transferred to the rabbit, and then transferred to the fox. Some food chains are longer than this one, but there can’t be too many links in a food chain. Each animal in the food chain uses up a lot of energy from the previous level instead of passing it on the meaning that only about 10% of the energy consumed by an animal will be passed on to the next level. Let’s take a look at a longer food chain that also begins with grass. This time, let’s make our primary consumer a grasshopper. The grasshopper eats the grass and then gets eaten by a secondary consumer – a bluebird. Then the bluebird gets eaten by a tertiary, or third-level, consumer – a snake. The snake is eaten in turn by an owl. The owl is the apex predator in this food chain. Apex predators are not hunted and eaten by any animals. We say that they are at the top of the food chain! You probably recognize a lot of apex predators like lions, sharks, eagles, and crocodiles. Just because they don’t get eaten doesn’t mean that they don’t contribute to the food chain, however! When an animal dies their body is broken down by decomposers. Decomposers are usually bacteria and fungi that break down dead plants and animals into nutrients in the soil that in turn help the plants at the beginning of the food chain to grow. It’s the circle of life! Natural ecosystems usually have more complicated food chains, however. A network of interconnected food chains is called a food web. The arrows are used to show which direction the energy flows and help keep track of the connections between organisms. Now that you understand a little bit more about food chains, see if you can find the connections between living things around you!