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The food chain explains who eats who in the wild. Every living thing—from one-celled birds to huge blue whales—needs food to survive. Each food chain is a possible pathway the energy and also nutrients can follow through the ecosystem.For example, grass produce its very own food from sunlight. A rabbit eats the grass. A fox eats the rabbit. As soon as the fox dies, bacteria break down its body, return it come the soil whereby it offers nutrients because that plants prefer grass.Of course, many different pets eat grass, and rabbits have the right to eat other plants as well as grass. Foxes, in turn, can eat many varieties of animals and also plants. Each of these living things can be a component of many food chains. All of the interconnected and also overlapping food chains in an ecosystem make up a food web.

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Trophic LevelsOrganisms in food chains space grouped into categories referred to as trophic levels. About speaking, this levels are divided into producers (first trophic level), consumers (second, third, and fourth trophic levels), and decomposers. Producers, additionally known together autotrophs, make their own food. They consist of the very first level of every food chain. Autotrophs room usually tree or one-celled organisms. Virtually all autotrophs use a process called photosynthesis to develop “food” (a nutrient called glucose) from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Plants room the most familiar type of autotroph, however there are many other kinds. Algae, who larger forms are known as seaweed, are autotrophic. Phytoplankton, small organisms that live in the ocean, are also autotrophs. Some types of bacteria room autotrophs. For example, bacteria living in active volcanoes use sulfur link to develop their very own food. This process is referred to as chemosynthesis.The second trophic level is composed of organisms the eat the producers. This are dubbed primary consumers, or herbivores. Deer, turtles, and also many species of birds room herbivores. Secondary consumers eat the herbivores. Tertiary consumer eat the secondary consumers. There might be an ext levels that consumers prior to a chain finally reaches its top predator. Optimal predators, additionally called apex predators, eat various other consumers. Consumers can be carnivores (animals the eat various other animals) or omnivores (animals that eat both plants and animals). Omnivores, like people, consume many species of foods. World eat plants, such as vegetables and also fruits. We additionally eat animals and animal products, such as meat, milk, and also eggs. We eat fungi, such together mushrooms. We also eat algae, in edible seaweeds prefer nori (used come wrap episode rolls) and sea lettuce (used in salads). Detritivores and decomposers are the final part of food chains. Detritivores are organisms that eat nonliving plant and also animal remains. Because that example, scavengers such as vultures eat dead animals. Dung beetles eat pet feces. Decomposers like fungi and also bacteria complete the food chain. They rotate organic wastes, such as decaying plants, into inorganic materials, such as nutrient-rich soil. Decomposers finish the bicycle of life, returning nutrients to the floor or oceans for use by autotrophs. This beginning a whole new food chain.

Food ChainsDifferent habitats and ecosystems administer many feasible food chains that make up a food web.

In one maritime food chain, single-celled organisms called phytoplankton carry out food because that tiny shrimp referred to as krill. Krill administer the main food resource for the blue whale, an animal on the third trophic level. In a meadow ecosystem, a grasshopper might eat grass, a producer. The grasshopper can get consumed by a rat, which in turn is spend by a snake. Finally, a hawk—an apex predator—swoops down and snatches increase the snake.In a pond, the autotroph can be algae. A mosquito larva eats the algae, and then probably a dragonfly larva eats the young mosquito. The dragonfly larva i do not care food because that a fish, which gives a tasty meal for a raccoon.


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Carnivorous . . . Plants?Most tree on planet take power from the sun and nutrients native the soil. A few plants, however, obtain their nutrient from animals. This carnivorous plants encompass pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, and also bladderworts. These plants attract and also trap preyusually insectsand then break castle down with digestive enzymes.


Links in the ChainOrganisms consume nutrient from a range of different sources in the food chain.

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Xylophages eat wood. Termites and bark beetles are xylophages.Coprophages eat animal feces. Dung beetles and flies are coprophages.Geophages eat earth, such as clay or soil. Parrots and also cockatoos room geophages.Palynivores eat pollen. Honeybees and also some butterflies space palynivores.Lepidophages room fish that eat the scale (but no the body) of various other fish. Part piranha and also some catfish are lepidophages.Mucophages eat mucus. Usually, these small organisms live in the gills the fish.