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The food chain describes who eats who in the wild. Every living thing—from one-celled birds to huge blue whales—needs food come survive. Every food chain is a feasible pathway the energy and also nutrients deserve to follow through the ecosystem.For example, grass to produce its own food from sunlight. A rabbit eats the grass. A fox eats the rabbit. As soon as the fox dies, bacteria breakdown its body, return it come the soil whereby it gives nutrients for plants like grass.Of course, plenty of different animals eat grass, and also rabbits can eat various other plants as well as grass. Foxes, in turn, deserve to eat many species of animals and plants. Every of these living things have the right to be a component of many food chains. Every one of the interconnected and also overlapping food chain in one ecosystem comprise a food web.

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Trophic LevelsOrganisms in food chains room grouped into categories dubbed trophic levels. Around speaking, these levels are divided into producer (first trophic level), consumers (second, third, and also fourth trophic levels), and decomposers. Producers, additionally known as autotrophs, make their very own food. They make up the an initial level the every food chain. Autotrophs are usually tree or one-celled organisms. Almost all autotrophs usage a procedure called photosynthesis to develop “food” (a nutrient dubbed glucose) native sunlight, carbon dioxide, and also water. Plants are the many familiar form of autotroph, but there are countless other kinds. Algae, who larger creates are recognized as seaweed, are autotrophic. Phytoplankton, small organisms that live in the ocean, are also autotrophs. Some types of bacteria are autotrophs. For example, bacteria living in active volcanoes usage sulfur compounds to develop their very own food. This process is called chemosynthesis.The second trophic level consists of organisms the eat the producers. This are referred to as primary consumers, or herbivores. Deer, turtles, and many varieties of birds room herbivores. Secondary consumers eat the herbivores. Tertiary consumers eat the second consumers. There might be an ext levels that consumers before a chain ultimately reaches its optimal predator. Peak predators, likewise called apex predators, eat other consumers. Consumers have the right to be carnivores (animals that eat various other animals) or omnivores (animals the eat both plants and animals). Omnivores, prefer people, consume many species of foods. Human being eat plants, such together vegetables and also fruits. We additionally eat animals and animal products, such together meat, milk, and also eggs. We eat fungi, such as mushrooms. We likewise eat algae, in edible seaweeds choose nori (used to wrap sushi rolls) and also sea lettuce (used in salads). Detritivores and decomposers space the final part of food chains. Detritivores room organisms the eat nonliving plant and animal remains. For example, scavengers such as vultures eat dead animals. Dung beetles eat animal feces. Decomposers prefer fungi and also bacteria complete the food chain. They turn organic wastes, such together decaying plants, into not natural materials, such together nutrient-rich soil. Decomposers complete the bike of life, returning nutrient to the floor or seas for usage by autotrophs. This beginning a whole brand-new food chain.

Food ChainsDifferent habitats and also ecosystems carry out many feasible food chain that consist of a food web.

In one marine food chain, single-celled organisms dubbed phytoplankton administer food because that tiny shrimp called krill. Krill administer the key food resource for the blue whale, an animal on the third trophic level. In a meadow ecosystem, a grasshopper could 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 up the snake.In a pond, the autotroph might be algae. A mosquito larva eats the algae, and then probably a dragonfly larva eats the young mosquito. The dragonfly larva becomes food for a fish, which provides a tasty enjoy the meal for a raccoon.


Carnivorous . . . Plants?Most tree on planet take power from the sun and also nutrients indigenous the soil. A few plants, however, acquire their nutrients from animals. This carnivorous plants include pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, and also bladderworts. These plants attract and also trap preyusually insectsand climate break them down through digestive enzymes.

Links in the ChainOrganisms consume nutrients from a variety of various sources in the food chain.

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Xylophages eat wood. Termites and bark beetles are xylophages.Coprophages eat pet feces. Dung beetles and flies space coprophages.Geophages eat earth, such as clay or soil. Parrots and cockatoos room geophages.Palynivores eat pollen. Honeybees and some butterflies room palynivores.Lepidophages are fish the eat the scales (but not the body) of other fish. Some piranha and also some catfish are lepidophages.Mucophages eat mucus. Usually, these small organisms live in the gills of fish.