We explain what a food chain is and the links that make it up. In addition, how are the aquatic and terrestrial chains.
What is a food chain?
The food chain is the process by which nutrients are transferred between the different species that make up a biological community . The graphic chain who feeds on who in nature.
Also called the food chain , a food chain shows the flow of nutrients and energy between the various species from their diet .
It is composed of links that acquire energy by feeding on the previous species. Within each trophic chain are the following links:
- Producers . Also known as autotrophs , are those species (basically plants) that make their own food through solar energy and simple substances.
- First order consumers. They are those species whose food is based on plants, that is, they are herbivores.
- Second order consumers. Also called secondary, they are carnivorous species , that is, they feed on other animals.
- Decomposers . Those species that are responsible for the remains of the other links become part of the soil . In this link are fungi, worms and certain microorganisms that feed on plant and animal waste.
Aquatic food chain
The aquatic food chain graphs the way in which the species that live in the water feed and acquire energy from other species.
Within this chain, five levels are distinguished:
- Photoautotrophs Certain unicellular organisms known as phytoplankton form the basis of the aquatic food chain . They are producers that carry out the process of photosynthesis thanks to sunlight and produce organic compounds in addition to oxygen.
- Herbivorous . Those aquatic species that have a plant-based diet. These species can live on the surface of the water (such as jellyfish or mollusks). Turtles or certain species of fish that, at the same time, are the food of other carnivorous aquatic species are also located at this level.
- Carnivores . Carnivorous species can be of different sizes. Sardines, octopus or squid are some of the species that make up this link.
- Decomposers . They are organisms that break down the remains of lifeless organisms.
Terrestrial food chain
Within the terrestrial food chain, three different roles are identified:
The producers . They are the vegetables that produce energy from sunlight.
The consumers . Within this link three levels are identified:
- Primary consumers . The species that feed on plants, fruits or vegetables. For example: sheep, rabbit, giraffe, cow, etc.
- Secondary consumers . Carnivorous species that feed on the primary. For example: spider, snake, owl, etc.
- Tertiary consumers . The species that feed on primary and secondary consumers. Also called predators. For example: lion, tiger, golden eagle, etc.
- Omnivores . Consumers of producers and primary consumers (plants and animals). For example: squirrel, fox, some turtles and the human being.
- Decomposers . The species that feed on the remains of lifeless organisms, which later become part of the soil. For example: bacteria , insects, fungi, etc.
Importance of the food chain
The importance of the food chain is that it reflects how the species that make up the same ecosystem are related , as well as how they feed and transfer energy. Through the food chain, in addition, nature is kept in balance.
Examples of the food chain
Here are some examples of food chains:
- The butterflies feed on nectar and, at the same time, are the food of other insects that are the food of bats. When they die, they are broken down by organs and worms.
- The hens feed on corn and their eggs are the food of the weasels that, at the same time, are hunted by snakes.
- Zebras, which feed on herbs and shrubs , are usually hunted by crocodiles that, when they die, are the food of decomposers.
- The worms, which feed on wood , are the food of certain birds whose eggs are the food of snakes, which are hunted by eagles.
- Sardines, which feed on plankton , are the food of species such as cod or herring, which are eaten by dolphins. The latter are the food of killer whales, which when they die are broken down by crustaceans and bacteria.
- Buffaloes, which eat grass , are the habitat and food of ticks, which are then hunted by birds. At the same time, buffalo are prey to felines like tigers.
- Lobsters, which eat leaves , are the food of toads that, in turn, are the food of snakes.
Aquatic food chain of the human being
Within the aquatic food chain there are five types of consumers. Among them are omnivores , which are those that feed on vegetables and animals. In this category you can place the human being .
The human being can consume crustaceans, molluscs, fish, mammals and reptiles , both fresh or salt water. While it is true that human beings do not live in water, nor do birds, they can use different techniques to feed on the species that live there.
Some of the instruments that humans use to fish are nets, cages, fishing rods or harpoons. You can fish from the shore, from boats or underwater.