What are food chains? 

The trophic chain, food chain, or food chain is known as the mechanism by which organic matter (nutrients) and energy are transferred by the different types of living things that make up a biological community or ecosystem. Its name comes from the Greek trophies “to feed”, “to nourish”.

All biological communities consist of various interconnected life forms that share the habitat but compete for survival and reproduction, feed on vegetation, other living beings, or decompose matter, in a cycle that is usually understood as a chain, since every link is linked to the others to survive.

So one can speak of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a food chain:

Producers. They are the ones who are nourished on inorganics and energy sources like sunlight. This is the case with photosynthesis.

Consumer. Instead, they feed on the organic matter of other living things, regardless of whether they are producers (herbivores eat plants) or other consumers (predators eat other animals). Depending on the case, we can speak of primary and secondary consumers (called final if they lack natural predators), respectively.

Decomposer. After all, they are the ones who work together to recycle organic material, reducing it to its most basic components and allowing manufacturers to reuse it. Fungi, bacteria, and insects are the main decomposers.

Characteristics of trophic chains

Food chains are primarily interdependent. That is, its connections or trophic levels are interdependent in a cycle that maintains a certain balance, and if it were lost due to human interference or natural accident, it would create an imbalance that can wipe out species or create others. ecological damage. This is especially the case when invasive species crowd out local species, when important predators are wiped out to prevent the disorderly proliferation of smaller species, and so on.

On the other hand, a percentage of the energy in food chains is lost when it passes from one link in the chain to the other. In other words, when the end user is reached, a significant part of the heat has been lost in the transfer of matter between producer and consumer. In return, chemical energy is converted from one tissue to another: the wolf does not eat grass, but rabbits, which in turn eat grass. The energy of the grass reached the transformed wolf, although part of it was lost along the way.

In some cases, such as humans, this can be fixed by skipping links in the chain: instead of eating the creature that eats grain, eat the grain directly.

Types of food chains

Trophy chains are generally classified according to the habitat in which they take place. Therefore, there are usually two different types:

Terrestrial trophic chains. These take place in different places on the continental shelf, even below the surface of the earth. For example, the trophic chains of the desert, the humid tropical forest, etc.

Aquatic food chains. Those that are found in marine or lake environments and are composed of living things adapted to aquatic or underwater life at different levels, such as B. the food chain on the coast or deep-sea areas, etc.

Trophic level

Each rung of the food chain is called a trophic level. In each species, the different species that share a feeding activity or diet are imaginary or representational and therefore occupy the same place in the food cycle of the ecosystem.

Trophy levels can be:

Producers of primary producers. Life forms that are endowed with autotrophic nutrition, that is, can synthesize their food like plants.

Consumer. These heterotrophic creatures have to consume the organic matter of others to feed themselves. They are usually divided into four sub-steps:

  • Primary. Herbivores and other beings that feed directly on the producers or their derivatives (seeds, fruits, etc.).
  • Secondary.  Small predators that feed on primary consumers.
  • Tertiary. Larger predators that prey on secondary consumers.
  • Quaternary or final. Large predators that feed on tertiary or secondary consumers, and that do not have natural predators.

 Decomposers. Nature’s recycling department, which feeds on carrion, waste, decomposing organic matter and which helps reduce it to its basic materials. They are also called detritophages or saprophages.

Trophic pyramid

The trophic or food pyramid is nothing more than a way to represent the trophic chains of an ecosystem in a hierarchical and orderly manner by arranging the various trophic levels in rows that are arranged from base to top and usually come from the inorganic world of decomposers to that of the end-user. As you climb the pyramid, you are moving in the direction of the flow of energy. and when it is lowered from the other side, it moves in the direction of decomposition or return.

This determination has the advantage that the numerical proportions between the species that make up each rung are shown very well: the decomposers, producers, and main consumers are much more numerous than the end-users, otherwise the cycle could not be repeated.

Trophic web

Another way of representing food chains is the food, or trophic web, in which all species involved in a habitat or segment of that habitat are linked by consumption lines (i.e. who eats what or who). as a scheme or organizational chart.

This type of representation, which is different from the pyramid, makes it possible to track the flow of matter or energy between different species, rather than general groups of species.

Examples of food chains

A couple of examples of the food chain could be the following:

  • Garden food chain
    • Final consumers.  Toads and birds feed on insects and caterpillars.
    • Primary consumers.  Caterpillars, ants, and other insects feed on plants or fungi. Also, hummingbirds and birds feed on nectar and fruits.
    • Producers. Garden plants that photosynthesize and produce flowers, fruits, and seeds.
    • Decomposers. Fungi, beetles, and other insects feed on fallen leaves, decomposed fruit, and the carcasses of insects, birds, and toads.
  • Food Chain of the Nether Zone
    • Final consumers.  Larger abyssal fish, which hunt primary consumers.
    • Primary consumers.  Small deep-sea fish and jellyfish, which feed on decomposers.
    • Producers. They do not exist, since there is no sunlight at such depths.
    • Decomposers. Small crustaceans and mollusks feed on the rain of organic matter that falls from the upper layers of the sea, as well as the corpses of abyssal fish.
Examples of food chains|What are food chains? Types and Characteristics

Examples of food chains|What are food chains? Types and Characteristics


Categories: Biology