Food chain

Lion: at the top of the animal food chain

Introduction - what it is

Within the food chain there is the transfer of energy and nutrients in the following order: producers (plants), consumers (herbivorous and carnivorous animals) and decomposers (fungi and bacteria).

Understanding the functioning and main characteristics of the food chain

With regard to nutrients, this transport is terminated when they return to producers (a process facilitated by decomposers) and can be reused as simpler compounds. In the case of energy, it cannot be reused.

The first level of the food chain consists of autotrophic beings (producers) who synthesize organic matter from mineral substances and convert light energy into chemical energy. This first level includes green plants, cyanophytes and some bacteria that perform photosynthesis.

The other levels are formed by heterotrophic beings. Unlike the first level, these beings are not able to produce their own energy, so they need organic substances produced by other organisms. This group includes all animals (herbivores and carnivores) and decomposers (fungi and bacteria).

Herbivorous animals

Herbivores belong to the second level of the food web. These animals are known as primary consumers because they feed directly from producers.

Carnivorous animals

Carnivores are living things that feed on other animals. The carnivore that feeds on the herbivorous animal is called a secondary consumer.

Decomposing Animals

Decomposers are beings that feed on dead matter and excrement. They have a very important function within the ecosystem as they turn organic substances into mineral substances, which will again serve as nutrients for producers such as green plants.

Example (scheme) of a food chain.