What is Food chain?
In ecology, food chain is the basic unit of any ecosystem. Food chain can be defined as the entire connection, network or cycle of food and its consumption among animals. Certainly first from the producer of the food to the rest of the consumers.
It is the sequence and order by which food and energy is transferred as matter, from one organism to another. In science and among different plants and animals, food chain is different because some animals’ food chain are different from others because some animals consume more food than other animals.
The primary source of food which is plants overtime converts solar energy to food through what is called photosynthesis. In a food chain, a primary consumer is usually eaten by a higher consumer. Among some other animals, the exception of one animal in the chain can be the extinction of a species of animal.
A food chain also shows the relationship between different animals, for example, animals in the water (aquatic animals) get to feed on themselves and that is a representation of their nutrition. In a food chain, the sun is the initial source of energy if a food chain has to begin with green plants.
The food chain is a link of producers, consumers and decomposers. Energy flows first from the sun (which is now a producer), down to green plants and the animals that feed on them and then on different levels. A good example of a simple food chain is: Sun (energy supplier) – green plant (producer) – cow (primary consumer) – man (secondary consumer).
Most food chains which are on the land and begin their trophic process begin from the sun and allow for the pattern of herbivores, carnivores and predators in the chain. These predators get to excrete, producing nutrition for plants which also need sunlight to grow. With this being the chain, the process begins all over again, making the process an unending cycle.
This process as earlier stated sometimes changes because of the exception of one animal or two in the chain. Unlike that of the land, the food chain among aquatic animals is quite complex because the process does not kick off from the sun being the energy supplier, rather it begins from the plants in the water, meaning the decomposers play a large role because these plants in the water need the nutrients to grow and to become food for its primary consumers.
Surprisingly, the decomposers do more than nourishing the plants in the water, it also provides nutrients for the entire water body. An example of an aquatic food chain is as follows; Algae (producer) – otocinclus fish (primary consumer) – osprey (secondary consumer).
Apart from the land and aquatic life food chain, there is the Chemosynthetic food chain which still doesn’t get its energy directly from the sun but finds another source as its energy supplier. In this food chain, since the microbes never get to receive energy from the sunlight, they tend to get their nutrients from the compounds in the water which are released from the Earth’s crusts, down in the depths of the ocean.
Nutrients that cannot be supplied or gotten from the surface of the earth. This kind of cycle happens in the deepest parts of the oceans and is called “chemosynthesis”. An example of this chain is represented as thus: Bacteria (supplier) – clams (primary consumer) – octopus (secondary consumer).
What is Food Web?
Food web on the other hand is a collection of multiple food chains. It is also known as the food cycle. It is a representation of different kinds and species of animals in the ecosystem preying on each other to survive while the process continues and goes over again as it is a cycle. Food web representations can only try to represent the real ecosystem as it is.
All living things on land and beneath the waters are part of a system we get to call the food chain. The above-listed examples are only a representation of a few food webs that get to exist. The food chains also get to show the relationship between the different animals, as they all need the presence of the other to survive and the process continues.