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FOOD CHAIN AND WEBS

A tiny insect nibbles on some leaves .The insect skims over a lake .A little fish swimming below spots the
insect on top of the water .The fish zooms up and eats the insect.

Later , a slightly larger fish eats the little fish .Then , the slightly larger fish gets eaten by a really big fish .U are
in a boat on the lake fishing .U catch the fish cook it and eat it for dinner..

Charles Sutherland Elton (1900-1991) a British biologist and naturalist who established the principles of
modern animal ecology .His studies of animals in their natural environment helped him develop concepts of the
food chain .Succession of organisms , each dependent on the next for food & ecologically niche in which every
species occupies a unique position within its ecological community..

WHATS A FOOD CHAIN?


A food chain is the way energy goes from one living thing to another through food .
Plants are the first step in most of the food chains .Energy flows from plants to bigger and bigger animals
through the steps of eating and being eaten .

In all food chains in the process of photosynthesis solar energy is used as light and heat by the plants .CO2 is
reduced by being combined with water producing glucose .CO2 and H2O have less energy but glucose a high
energy compound is capable of storing solar energy .This energy is used for cellular processes , growth and
development .When autotrophs are eaten by heterotrophs the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins contained in them
become energy sources for the heterotrophs

An important exception is lithotrophy, the utilization of inorganic compounds, especially minerals such as
sulfur or iron, for energy. In some lithotrophs, minerals are used simply to power processes for making organic
compounds from inorganic carbon sources.

Unlike water , the hydrogen compounds used in chemosynthesis and high in energy .Other lithotrops are able to
directly utilize inorganic substances .e.g-iron , hydrogen sulphide , elemental sulphur or thiosulphate for some
or all of the energy needs.

TROPHIC LEVELS
Food energy flows from one organism to the next and to the next and so on , with some energy being lost at
each level .Organisms in a food chain are grouped into trophic levels , based on how many links are removed
from the primary producer .In trophic levels there may be one species or a group of species with the same
predators and prey .

PHYTOPLANKTON-very small free floating plants or the ones called algae .

Autotropha such as plants or phytoplanton are in the first trophic level , they are at the base of the food chain
.Herbivores (primary consumers) are in the second trophic level .Carnivores (secondary consumers) are in the
third trophic levels .Omnivores are found in the second and the third levels .Predators preying upon other
predators are tertiary consumers or secondary carnivores and they are found in the fourth trophic level ..

In a few food chains, e.g., near hydrothermal vents in the deep sea, autotrophs are able to produce organic
compounds without sunlight, through a process similar to photosynthesis called chemosynthesis, using a carbon
source such as carbon dioxide and a chemical energy sources such as hydrogen sulfide, H2S, or molecular
hydrogen, H2..

We know that the food we eat acts as a fuel to provide us energy to do work .Thus the interactions among
various components of the environment involves flow of energy from one component of the system to the
other .As we have studied the autotrophs capture the energy present in the sunlight and converts it into chemical
energy .This energy supports all the activities of the living world .From autotrophs to the energy goes to the
heterotrophs and decomposers.