Study Material

Difference between Food Chain and Food Web

Food chain and food web are often confused as synonyms. But, they are two different and important parts of the ecosystem. In this article, we will learn about its types, examples and significances. Let us discuss this topic in detail here. Happy learning!

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Posted by Kunduz Tutor, 26/10/2021
Difference between Food Chain and Food Web

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The food chain and food web are two important parts of the ecosystem for the energy transfer from one trophic level to another trophic level. In this article, we will learn about its definition, types, and examples of different types of food chains and food webs.

Author – Parisa Gupta

What is a Food Chain?

“A food chain is a one-way process of the flow of energy in an ecosystem passing through a sequence of organisms.”

We can divide it into three major trophic levels. These are:

  1. Producer
  2. Consumer
  3. Decomposers

Moreover, in a food chain, each organism obtains energy from the one at the level below.

Who are Producers, Consumers and Decomposers?

Plants are called the producer because they create their own food through photosynthesis. 

Animals are consumers because they cannot create their own food they must eat plants or other animals to get the energy that they need. 

Decomposers are the organisms that decompose all the materials in the food chain at top of the trophic level.

Furthermore, consumers can be:

  1. Primary consumer
  2. Secondary consumer
  3. Tertiary consumer
  4. Quarternary consumer

Types of the food chains

There are different types of food chains in the ecosystem. They are:

  1. Grazing food chain
  2. Detritus food chain

Let us know more about it, one by one.

Grazing food chain:

In this type of food chain, the consumer utilizes plants as their food. It begins from green plants and the primary consumer is a herbivore. For example,

Grass   →    Deer   →    Lion

Detritus food chain

This type of food chain starts from dead organic matter of decaying animal and plant bodies to the microorganism and then to the detritus feeding organism and to the other predators. It depends on the influx of the organic matter produced in another. For example,

Dead leaves     →       Woodlouse    →      Blackbird

Significance of Food Chain

The food chain has a huge importance in the ecosystem, such as:

  1. Food chain helps in understanding the feeding relationship as well as the interaction between organism and ecosystem.
  2. It helps in understanding the mechanism of flow and circulation of matter in the ecosystem.
  3. It also helps in understanding the movement of the toxic substance.

What is a Food Web?

“A food web can be defined as a network of the food chain, interconnected at various trophic levels to form the number of feeding connections among the different organisms of the biotic community.”

It is also known as the consumer resources system.

A node represents an individual species or a group of related species or different stages of single species. A link connects two nodes.

However, it always goes from prey to predator. The lowest trophic level is called basal species and the highest trophic level is called the top predator.

Furthermore, the movement of the nutrient is cyclic but the flow of energy is unidirectional and non-cyclic.

Different types of Web Representation

  1. Topological web: indicates feeding relationship
  2. Flow web: strengths of the feeding interaction
  3. Interaction web: shows the interaction of one group with another

Different types of food webs

  1. Soil food web
  2. Aquatic food web
  3. Forest food web
  4. Grasslands food web
  5. Food Web in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem

Significance of the food web

Finally, let us see what are the significances of the food web.

  1. Distinguish level of producer and consumer by identifying the defining and the importance of the animal relationship and food source beginning with a primary producer such as plants, insect, and herbivore
  2. The food web provides stability to the ecosystem.

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