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What exactly is a food chain?

   
       A food chain shows you wich animal eats wich in a simple line.  Most food chains have no more than four or five links.  There cannot be too many links in a single food chain because the animals at the end of the chain would not get enough food (and hence energy) to stay alive.  Most animals are part of more than one food chain and eat more than one kind of food in order to meet their food and energy requirements.  These interconnected food chains form a food web.  In a food chain, energy is passed from one link to another.  When a herbivore eats,  only a fraction of the energy (that it gets from the plant food) becomes new body mass- the rest of the energy is lost as waste or used up by the herbivore to carry out its life processes.  Therefore,  when the herbivore is eaten by a carnivore,  it passes only a small amount of total energy (that it has received) to the carnivore. Of the energy transferred from the herbivore to the carnivore,  some energy will be "wasted" or "used up" by the carnivore.  The carnivore then has to eat many herbivores to get enough energy to grow.

Every participant in an ecosystem has an important part to play and if one becomes more dominant than the others, the ecosystem can develop problems.

We'll start with the producers. These are living things which take the non living matter from the environment, such as minerals and gases and uses them to support life. Green plants are considered producers and the are at the beginning of the food chain.

Next are the consumers. These living things need the producers to be their food.

Animals who eat only plants are called herbivores. They are considered consumers and are next in the food chain.

Animals who eat other animals are called carnivores. They also considered consumers and are a link farther along on the food chain since they need the herbivores for their food.

Animals and people that eat both animals and plants are called omnivores, and they are also part of the consumer piece of the ecosystem.

Finally, the last part of the ecosystem is the decomposers.
These are the living things which feed off dead plants and
animals and reduce their remains to minerals and gases
again. Examples are fungi, like mushrooms, and bacteria.

Then what is a food web?

   





A food web shows how plants and animals are connected in many ways to help them all survive.  Just by looking at a food web you could figure out who are the predators and who are their prey and build your own food web.  A food web does not have to have alimit of 5 or less bacause a food web may have as much animals it may fit.