Food Chain Facts

Food Chain Facts
A food chain is a chain that shows the relationship between species based upon their feeding. A food chain often begins with a plant because it is able to make its own food. This type of link on the food chain is referred to as a producer. The first animal to eat the producer is referred to as the primary consumer. An animal that eats the primary consumer is referred to as a secondary consumer. This continues with third consumer, fourth consumer, fifth consumer, etc... Eventually the energy transfer ends when decomposers feed from the dead animal. A food chain is essentially a transfer of energy. The energy from a plant is transferred to the primary consumer when it is eaten. The energy from the primary consumer is transferred to the secondary consumer when it is eaten.
Interesting Food Chain Facts:
Food chains are very important for the survival of most species. When only one element is removed from the food chain it can result in extinction of a species in some cases.
An example of a simple food chain would be: A plant grows using the sun's energy and nutrients from the soil. A rabbit eats the plant. A fox eats the rabbit. The fox dies and decomposes into organisms that feed the soil.
A producer, which is able to produce its own food, is also called an autotroph. Every species in the ecosystem relies on producers for their existence.
A producer is able to covert inorganic compounds into organic compounds. Without this process life could not exist.
A producer can use either solar energy or chemical energy to convert organisms into usable compounds.
Because the sun is necessary for photosynthesis, life could not exist if the sun disappeared.
Consumers can be carnivores (meat eater only), herbivore (plant eater only), omnivore (eats animals and plants), and a scavenger (eats dead animals).
Examples of omnivores (plant and animal eaters) are bears (which eat fish, insects, honey, moose, and grass), turtles (which eat crayfish, earthworms, lettuce, and algae), squirrels (which eat seeds, fruit, eggs, and insects), and monkeys (which eat fruit, leaves, and frogs).
Examples of carnivores (animal eaters) include hawks, snakes, foxes, and spiders.
Examples of herbivores (plant eaters) include rabbits, moose, cows, groundhogs, and grasshoppers.
Decomposers, which feed on dead animals, break down the organic compounds into simple nutrients that are returned to the soil. These are the simple nutrients that plants require to create organic compounds.
It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 different decomposers in existence.
Al-Jahiz was a 9th century scientist who is responsible for introducing the concept of food chains.
The food web, which is a concept that expands on the food chain, was introduced in 1927 by Charles Elton.
Food chains can be short, or they can be long, depending on how many consumers can be eaten before one dies and begins to decompose.
If a food chain were to continue too long, the energy would become less and less and it would not be very valuable to the animal at the end.


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