Food Chain Dictionary Definitions

The food chain indicates the process by which energy and essential nutrients are transmitted from one living being to another.

All living things on Earth depend on each other for subsistence, which is why there is talk of a food chain that varies according to the ecosystem, for example, there is the land food chain and the aquatic food chain.

Links in the land food chain

The terrestrial food chain is made up of links that indicate how this process is carried out in general terms among living beings.

First link: it is composed of the producers or autotrophic organisms, which are those that transform the energy obtained through photosynthesis, water and soil into useful energy for the life of plants and vegetables.

Second link: at this level are consumers or heterotrophs, which are the organisms that feed on producers because they need their energy and nutrition to survive.

Types of consumers

There are different types of consumers according to the order in which they are located in the food chain.

  • Primary consumers: theyare those that feed and obtain energy and nutrients only from the producers. For example, insects or herbivorous animals.
  • Secondary consumers or predators: theyare the organisms that feed on primary consumers. These include predators or carnivorous animals.
  • Tertiary consumers:all those organisms or living beings that feed on the secondary and that are characterized by being superior to the latter group. For example, large animals such as lions, eagles, sharks, wolves, bears, and even humans.

Third link: it is composed of decomposers, that is, bacteria and fungi, that live in the soil and feed on consumers once they have completed their life cycle and die. However, these decomposers are not tied to act only in this link, they can actually act in any of them.

Consequently, the energy and nutrients that once contributed the producing organisms, return to the ground, to the plants and the food chain is repeated again.

However, along the food chain, the transfer of energy and nutrients, which is linear, is losing strength as it passes from link, therefore, the producing organisms are the ones that provide the most benefits and to a lesser extent do the consumers and decomposers.

On the other hand, in the food chain it exists in any medium where life exists, therefore, all organisms are of the utmost importance even if they do not provide the same levels of energy and nutrition.

That is to say, when a link disappears, the entire food chain is completely altered, as a result, overpopulations of organisms that are consumed and that in turn are necessary for the feeding of others.

Therefore, it is necessary to take care and protect all the ecosystems that act on Earth, natural life works in a cyclic manner and, when its functioning system is affected, all living beings, plants, insects, bacteria and humans are affected. .

Marine food chain

The marine food chain occurs in the seas and oceans. It differs from the terrestrial food chain in that the cycle is more extensive, some producers are microscopic, the producers are the fundamental food of predators, which are characterized by their large sizes.

The first link is composed of algae (plant) and phytoplankton (microscopic) that obtain energy through the sun.

The second link, consumers is composed of small or medium fish that get their nutrients from algae or plankton.

Then, they are followed by larger predators such as shellfish, hake or tuna, which in turn are the food for larger predators such as sharks or whales.

When these large predators die, as in the terrestrial food chain, their decomposed bodies will be the food of multiple bacteria, that is, the third link, which will allow their energy and nutrients to become food for the producing organisms.

Examples of food chain

These are some examples that demonstrate how the food chain works through different organisms.

  • Ants feed on the leaves, anteaters feed on ants, the anteater dies and decomposing organisms feed on their energy and nutrients that return to the earth, water and plants that other ants will eat again.
  • Herbs are eaten by grasshoppers. Frogs feed on insects, including the grasshopper. In turn, frogs are food for snakes, which are hunted and eaten by eagles. Eagles are predatory animals that when they die contribute their energies and nutrients to decomposing organisms and they transfer them back to plants.
  • Algae are the food of shrimp. Then, the shrimp are eaten by the blue whales, which then, when they die they will bring all their energy and nutrients to the marine environment and, thus, the whole food cycle begins again.