Food Chain Material: Definition, Functions, and Examples

Understanding the Food Chain – Humans are not the only creatures that live on this earth. There are many living creatures that grow and develop side by side with humans. As fellow living creatures that occupy the earth, there must be interaction between living things.

The relationship between living things that influence each other will produce an ecosystem. In an ecosystem environment, there are relationships between interrelated food webs.

An ecosystem can also be interpreted as an ecological system in which there is a reciprocal relationship between the diversity of species and the cycle of matter and the flow of energy through the components contained therein.

Let’s get to know more about the meaning of food webs and ecology below, Sinaumed’s!

A. Definition of Food Chain

Food chains are part of a food web. Although food chains and food webs look the same, they are slightly different.

The food chain is a series of processes of eating and being eaten between living things based on a certain sequence in which there are producers, consumers and decomposers (decomposers) for survival.

In simple terms, the food chain can be seen sequentially from producers, consumers and decomposers. It’s a different case with food webs. A food web is a combination of interconnected and overlapping food chains in an ecosystem.

Learn about food webs, stages in classification, types of classification of living things that exist, levels of classification and much more in the book Classification of Living Things: Did You Know Series Biology.

B. Functions of Food Chains / Webs

The fundamental purpose of a food web is to describe the food chain between species in a community.

Food webs can be constructed to describe species interactions. All species in a food web can be distinguished into basal species (autotrophs, such as plants), intermediate species (mid-order herbivores and carnivores, such as grasshoppers and scorpions), and apex or predatory species (higher carnivores).

Some scientists call the level of each organism in the food web the term trophic level. These trophic levels determine how energy flows through ecosystems.

The grouping of species at the trophic level helps us understand the relationships between species. Here are some of the functions of food webs that you need to know about in Sinaumed’s:

  • Describe the direct interactions between species that exist in the ecosystem itself, so that relationships between species can be distinguished which are included in the basal species, transitional species and which are the top predator species.
  • As a simplification in understanding a relationship between species and functions in studying both bottom-up control and top-down control in a community structure.
  • Studying top-down control or bottom-up control within a community structure or form.

With their own food chain process, living things can grow and survive. Learn everything about other living things that you need to know in the book Everything About Living Things by Azzurrino Riski.

C. Food Chain Process

The process of eating and being eaten in this food chain takes place continuously with their respective roles, such as producers, consumers, and decomposers or decomposers. Here’s Sinaumed’s’ explanation:

1. Manufacturer

Producers are organisms that are able to make their own food, for example, green plants. Its existence does not depend on the availability of food, but the balance of nature.

Therefore producers do not eat other creatures. But instead it is eaten by other creatures. Producers are also living things that can make organic substances from inorganic substances. Usually producers make their food through the process of photosynthesis. Examples of producers include green plants, algae, and mosses.

2. Consumers

Consumers are living things that depend on other creatures because they cannot produce their own food like producers. Therefore, to maintain their survival, consumers depend on other organisms. The role of consumers in an ecosystem is usually animals. Consumers have several levels, including:

  • The first consumer (primary) , the first consumer is a producer or plant eater and is usually called a herbivore consumer. Examples include cows, rabbits, buffaloes and others.
  • Secondary consumers , organisms whose food sources are from the previous trophic level (trophic 2). This level is filled by carnivorous animals that can still be preyed upon by other animals, for example, rats.
  • Tertiary consumers , these consumers are the second consumer eaters and so on until the last consumer is called the top consumer. Usually the top consumers are animals that cannot be eaten by other animals. For example lions, crocodiles, eagles.

3. Decomposers or Decomposers

Decomposers are the last organisms in the food chain. Because decomposers are organisms capable of converting organic matter into anogarnic substances.

Decomposers break down carcasses or dead plants and then return the nutrients to the soil to be used by plants for photosynthesis, this is where the cycle of the food chain begins again.

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Examples of decomposers are fungi and bacteria decomposers. The food chain is part of a food web, the following is an explanation of food webs.

A food web is a combination of food chains that are related, combined or combined, that overlap in an ecosystem. Although in general there are 5 levels of the food chain, not all food chains consist of these 5 trophic levels.

There are food chains that only consist of 4 levels, there are also those that reach 6 trophic levels. The shorter a food chain, the greater the energy available, conversely if the food chain is long, the less energy is available.

D. Types of Ecological Pyramids

An ecological pyramid is a pyramid diagram that can describe the relationship between one trophic level and another, quantitatively in an ecosystem. In this pyramid, there are relatively many organisms that occupy the lower trophic levels. The higher the trophic level, the fewer the individuals. The trophic level consists of producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers.

Producers always occupy the first or lowest trophic level. While herbivores or primary consumers occupy the second trophic level, secondary consumers occupy the third trophic level, tertiary consumers occupy the fourth trophic level or the top of the pyramid. Here are the types of Sinaumed’s ecological pyramids!

1. The Energy Pyramid

This pyramid describes the loss of energy when transferring food energy at each trophic level in an ecosystem.

The energy pyramid is not only the total amount of energy used by organisms at each trophic level of the food chain but also the role of various organisms in energy transfer. In the use of energy, the higher the trophic level, the more efficient its use. However, the heat released in the energy transfer process becomes larger.

The loss of heat in the respiration process also increases from organisms with lower trophic levels to organisms with higher trophic levels. As for productivity, the less you reach the top of the trophic level, the less energy you store. Energy in the energy pyramid is expressed in calories per unit area per unit time.

2. Pyramid of Biomass

The Biomass Pyramid is a pyramid that describes the reduced transfer of energy at each trophic level in an ecosystem. In the pyramid of biomass, each trophic level shows the dry weight of all organisms at that trophic level expressed in grams/m2.

Generally, the shape of a biomass pyramid will shrink towards the top, because the energy transfer between trophic levels is not efficient.

But the pyramid of biomass can be inverted. For example, in the open ocean the producers are microscopic phytoplankton, while the consumers are microscopic creatures up to large creatures such as blue whales where the blue whale’s biomass exceeds its producers. The top of the biomass pyramid has the lowest biomass, which means the number of individuals is small, and generally carnivorous individuals at the top of the pyramid are large.

3. Pyramid of Numbers

The pyramid of numbers is a pyramid that describes the number of individuals at each trophic level in an ecosystem. The pyramid of numbers generally narrows upwards. The number of pyramidal organisms from the lowest trophic level to the top is the same as the other pyramids, namely producers, primary consumers and secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers meaning that the number of plants in the first trophic level is more than animals (primary consumers) in the second trophic level, the number of organisms secondary consumers are fewer than primary consumers, and the number of tertiary consumer organisms is less than secondary consumer organisms.

Learn information about other ecological studies in the Complete Biology Reference book: Ecology that Sinaumed’s must know about existing living things.

E. Example of a Food Chain Based on the Ecosystem

There are a number of examples of food webs grouped according to the habitat in which they live. An example is a food web for a particular habitat. There are about 13 living things in a food web cycle. Some of these living creatures include phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, shrimp, seagulls, crabs, seaweed, octopuses, penguins, elephant seals, seals, blue whales, and killer whales. Well, looking at the 13 living things that can be classified into a number of food chain cycles, including:

1. An example of a food chain on land

Rice – Rat – Snake – Eagle – Decomposer

  • Rice, namely as a food-producing producer for other organisms. Paddy produces rice seeds.
  • Mice, namely as primary consumers because rats are animals that eat plants or are called herbivores. Mice eat rice for their survival.
  • Snakes are secondary consumers because snakes eat other animals or are carnivores and snakes eat rats as a source of energy.
  • Eagles, namely peak consumers. Eagles eat snakes for their survival.
  • Decomposers, their role is to decompose the Eagle so that its substances and nutrients can be re-absorbed by the soil and can be absorbed by plants for the process of photosynthesis.

Not only in seas and lakes, food webs also occur in paddy field ecosystems, namely, as follows:

  • Tree > Sparrow > Tree Eagle > Cricket > Sparrow > Eagle.
  • Grass > Cricket > Rat > Eagle.
  • Grass > Cricket > Rat > Snake > Eagle.
  • Grass > Rat > Eagle.
  • Tree > Cricket > Rat > Eagle.
  • Tree > Cricket > Rat > Snake > Eagle.
  • Grass > Crickets > Sparrows > Eagles.
  • Grass > Rat > Snake > Eagle.
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2. Example of a Food Chain in the Desert

The desert is one of the few naturally occurring and biotic terrestrial ecosystems that can survive in this place due to its extremely hot and dry temperature. Some examples of desert ecosystems are the Gobi desert and the Kalahari desert in Africa. The characteristics of a desert ecosystem are:

  • Has very low rainfall,
  • It is part of the terrestrial ecosystem
  • Has very extreme temperatures.

An example of a food chain in a desert ecosystem is:

  • Solar energy – grass – deer – hyenas – decomposers
  • Solar energy – grass – rabbit – snake – eagle – decomposer

3. An example of a food chain in the sea

Marine ecosystems or marine ecosystems are natural aquatic ecosystems, dominated by very wide and high salt waters. The characteristics of the marine ecosystem are as follows:

  • Has a high salinity, the closer to the equator the higher
  • NaCl dominates marine ecosystem minerals up to 75%
  • Climate and weather do not really affect the marine ecosystem
  • It has variations in temperature difference at the surface with at depth.

Examples of food chains in marine ecosystems are:

Phytoplankton – Small Fish – Seals – Sharks – Decomposers

  • Phytoplankton, namely as a producer because it can form food reserves called starch through the process of photosynthesis.
  • Small fish, namely as primary consumers because small fish eat phytoplankton in order to survive.
  • Seals, namely as secondary consumers because seals eat small fish, and convert it into energy for their survival.
  • Sharks, namely as top consumers because sharks eat seals in order to survive
  • Decomposers, their role is to decompose sharks when they die. So that the nutrients can be absorbed by the soil where sea plants live.

4. Example of a Food Chain in a Lake

Lakes are natural aquatic ecosystems, just like seas and rivers, but lakes are included in the category of unique ecosystems or ecosystems with calm water. The characteristics of the lake ecosystem are as follows:

  • Has an inconspicuous temperature variation
  • Has very little light penetration
  • Inhabited by a distinctive flora
  • Inhabited by most animal phyla

An example of a food chain in a lake ecosystem is: Solar energy – phytoplankton – zooplankton – dragonfly or mosquito larvae – fish – crocodile – decomposers

  • Phytoplankton -> zooplankton -> Small fish -> Fish-eating birds -> Decomposers
  • Phytoplankton decomposers -> Zooplankton -> Small fish -> Big fish -> Decomposers
  • Phytoplankton -> Zooplankton -> Small fish -> Big fish -> Fish-eating birds -> Decomposers
  • Hydrylla Plants -> Snails -> Fish-eating birds -> Decomposers
  • Water hyacinth plant -> Snails -> Fish-eating birds -> Decomposers
  • Water hyacinth plant -> Caterpillars -> Birds -> Decomposers

5. Example of a Food Chain in a River

Rivers are Iotic ecosystems or ecosystems with flowing water. The characteristics of the river ecosystem are as follows:

  • Water in river ecosystems flows from upstream to downstream
  • There is a change in the physical and chemical state of the ecosystem that takes place continuously
  • The physical and chemical conditions at the river ecosystem water flow level are very high
  • Plants and animals that live have adapted to the conditions of river water flow

An example of a food chain in a river ecosystem is:

  • Solar energy – algae or moss – shrimp – fish – river snakes – decomposers
  • Solar energy – algae or moss – fish – bears – decomposers

6. Example of a Food Chain in the Savanna

Just like desert ecosystems, savannas also include terrestrial ecosystems that are formed naturally. There are two kinds of savannas, pure savannas and mixed savannas. Pure savanna has only one type of tree while mixed savanna has several types of trees. The characteristics of the savanna ecosystem are:

  • Meadows interspersed with trees
  • Located in the tropics
  • Types of flora that generally grow there are grass, Eucalyptus, Acacia, and Coryphautan
  • In general, the types of animals in the savanna biome are lions, tigers, deer, elephants, zebras, horses, termites, insects

An example of a food chain in a savanna ecosystem is:

  • Solar energy – grass – zebra – tiger – decomposers
  • Solar energy – grass – deer – cheetah – decomposers

Thus the meaning and a few examples of the food chain and examples. Another thing that is more important in studying food chains and webs is that we must understand that all creatures on this earth need each other to survive and for that we must continue to preserve nature.

The extinction of one particular type of animal will destroy the balance of the food chain and in the end it will all have an impact on human survival, the spirit of learning Sinaumed’s!

One of the causes of the destruction of this balance can also be climate change which in the end can have an impact on the extinction of living things as discussed in the book Oh, It Turns Out… Living Things Can Become Extinct Due to Climate Change!

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