Food Chain Definition: Types and Examples

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It is important to learn about food chain definition so you’ll know what’s its all about. In food chain you can see which organism that consume another organism inside an ecosystem. That way, you will see how the energy and nutrients are transferred between the organisms.

The chain will start with the organism known as the producer which then will be consume by another organism in chain until it ends up with the last consumer organism. The last consumer organism will then be decomposed by another organism which turn it into nutrient for the producer organism. That way the chain will complete its cycle.

Types of Food Chain That May Happen in An Ecosystem

1. Detritus type

Food Chain Definition

In this type of food chain, the members are plants and organism species such as algae, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, worms, insects, mites, and so on. The chain will start with an organic material which then will be consumed by the detritivores and decomposers. Then the next consumers are smaller size carnivores such as maggots which will then be consumed by bigger size carnivores.

2. Grazing Type

grazing food chain

In this type of food chain, the cycle starts from plants which then be consumed by herbivores. The next consumers are carnivores until the end of the cycle. The base energy on this chain type comes from photosynthesis. The energy will then be transferred from the plants into the herbivores that consume it. So, the energy on this chain will start flowing from autotrophs towards the herbivores then the carnivores. Since most energy in this world comes from autotrophs so most ecosystems in this world also use this type.

READ: Examples of Carnivores from Around the World

Simple Food Chain Examples In Various Ecosystem

Each ecosystem will have their own food chain definition. Some of them may start with similar organism but the member of the food chain depends on the organisms available in the ecosystem itself. Here are some of the simple food chain examples that happened in various ecosystem:

1. Forest ecosystem

In this ecosystem the producer organisms are trees and plants. Those plants will then be consumed by herbivores such as deer. Then the deer will be consumed by carnivores like tiger.

2. Grassland ecosystem

In grassland, the producer organism in the chain is the grass itself which uses the sun to create their own food. Then the grass will be consumed by the grasshopper which is the herbivores in the ecosystem. Then it will be consumed by the frog which is the first carnivore which then will be consumed by the snake. The last consumer is the eagle which will consume the snake.

3. Pond ecosystem

You might think that the pond ecosystem will have different kind of food chain definition. However, if you look closely, it is actually pretty similar even although the organisms seem different. The producers in this ecosystem is the aquatic plants or algae. They will then be consumed by small size fish or insects which then be consumed by larger size fishes. The cycle will end when the large size fishes is consumed by animals or birds.

To see the food chain in ecosystem easily you can try to look for the food chain diagram for the respected ecosystem.

READ: Herbivorous Define Creature and Examples

Trophic Levels

To make it easy for you to understand the food chain, it is better to see more detailed on each of the trophic level. Each level of the chain will create one trophic level. It will start with the first trophic level which will be consist of producers or autotrophs. Then the primary consumers come after which then followed by the secondary consumers. The top tropic level is the decomposers.

1. Producers

The organism that considered as producers are the one that can produce food using photosynthesis. The organism will use energy from the sun to cook their food. The organisms are plants and some other producer organisms. The producer will become the first in the chain.

2. Consumers

Organism is called as consumers because they dependent on the plants or other producer organisms for their food. The primary consumers are herbivores that feed on the plants. Then comes the secondary consumers which consist of carnivores that consume the herbivores, parasites that extract nutrients from its host as well as the scavengers that consume dead animals.

3. Decomposers

The organism that consider decomposers are one that can derive the nutrient they need to survive from decaying and dead organism and matter. This is the last level on the food chain. The organism will then convert the matter into inorganic materials which then will become the nutrients for the plant.

As you can see from the explanation the tropic level will complete the cycle after the decomposers level. You might be able to find more than one organism in each level thus you can create more than one food chain for each ecosystem. This food chain definition can be seen as the food chain web.


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