Food chain and food web in an ecosystem - Future Study Point

Food chain and food web in an ecosystem

Food web

Food chain and food web in an ecosystem

Food chain

Food chain and food web in an ecosystem 

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(i)Meaning of Food chain

(ii) Trophic Level

(iii)Definition of Food Chain

(iv) Food web

(v) Extract(Biological Magnification)

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Food chain and food web in an ecosystem

Meaning of food chain

A food chain in an ecosystem defines that one organism depends on other organisms for its survival. In a food chain energy is transferred from one organism to another organism. A food chain starts with producer organisms (Plants). All food chains are processed in the presence of bacteria on the earth.

Trophic level – Each step or level of the food chain forms a trophic level. The autotrophs or the producers are at the first trophic level. Autotrophs fix up the solar energy and make it available for heterotrophs or consumers. The herbivores or the primary consumers come at the second trophic level, small carnivores or secondary consumers at the third trophic level, and larger carnivores or the tertiary consumer forms the fourth trophic level.

trophic level

First Trophic Level: The trees , grass, and ferns form the first trophic level in the terrestrial ecosystem, and algae, seaweed, etc form the first trophic level in the marine ecosystem.

Second Trophic Level:The primary consumers eating plants forms second trophic level like rats,insects, small birds, frogs ,small fish etc.

Third Trophic Level: Secondary consumers eating the animals of second and first trophic level form fourth trophic level as an example snake, large fish, etc.

Fourth Trophic Level: Tertiary consumers eating the animals of second and third trophic levels form the fourth trophic level as an example owl, dog, cat, etc.

Fifth Trophic Level: Tertiary consumers eating the animals of first, second, third trophic, and fourth levels form the fourth trophic level as for example eagle, lion, etc.

Decomposer: Decomposers are not part of any food chain but these are an important part of the ecosystem since decomposers eat dead animals and plants converting them for energy.

Mechanism of Food Chain – Plant (producer) gets energy from sunlight and convert it into chemical energy. This energy supports all the activities in the world. From plants, the energy is transferred to heterotrophs and decomposers, as we know when one form of energy is changed to another, there is a loss of energy due to the surroundings that can’t be regained.

The transfer of energy

(i) The green plants in a terrestrial ecosystem capture at least 1% of the energy of sunlight that falls on their leaves and convert it into food.

(ii) When green plants are eaten by herbivores, a great deal of energy is lost as heat to the environment. Some amount of the energy is utilized in digestion. And in doing work and rest goes towards the growth and reproduction. An average of 10% of the total energy driven from the food taken is turned into its own body and made available for the next level of consumer. Since little energy is available for the next level of consumers, the loss of energy at each step is so great that very little usable energy remains after four trophic levels. There are greater numbers of individuals at the lower levels of an ecosystem.

Food web: Each organism is generally eaten by two or more organisms by other kinds of organisms which in turn are eaten by two or more. Other kinds of organisms which in turn are eaten by several other organisms. There is the relationship of one food chain to several other food chains.So instead of  a straight line food chain, the relationship can be shown as a series of branching lines called a food web.

Food web

Biological Magnification

Human lies on the top level of any food chain. Several pesticides and chemicals are utilized in to protect the crop from diseases and pests. These chemicals are either washed down into the soil or into the water bodies. From the soil, these are absorbed by the plants, and from the water bodies these are taken by fishes and aquatic plants. These chemicals accumulated as the trophic level rises up and ultimately maximum consumption is taken place by humans,it is known as biological magnification.

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