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Food Chain

A food chain is a linear sequence of links in a food web starting from a species that are called producers in the web and ends at a species that is called decomposers species in the web. A food chain also shows how the organisms are related with each other by the food they eat. Food chains were first introduced by the African-Arab scientist and philosopher Al-Jahiz in the 9th century and later popularized in a book published in 19 ! by Charles "lton# which also introduced the food web concept.

Food Chain
A food chain differs from a food web# because the comple$ polyphagous network of feeding relations are aggregated into trophic species and the chain only follows linear monophagous pathways. A common metric used to quantify food web trophic structure is food chain length. %n its simplest form# the length of a chain is the number of links between a trophic consumer and the base of the web and the mean chain length of an entire web is the arithmetic a&erage of the lengths of all chains in a food web.

Food Chain 'ength and (sage


)he food chain*s length is a continuous &ariable that pro&ides a measure of the passage of energy and an inde$ of ecological structure that increases in &alue from the lowest to the highest trophic +feeding, le&els. Food chains are often used in ecological modeling +such as a three species food chain,. )hey are simplified abstractions of real food webs# but comple$ in their dynamics and mathematical implications. "cologists ha&e formulated and tested hypotheses regarding the nature of ecological patterns associated with food chain length# such as increasing length with ecosystem size# reduction of energy at each successive level# or the that long food chain lengths are unstable. Food chain studies ha&e had an important role in ecotoxicology studies# tracing the pathways and biomagnification of en&ironmental contaminants.

Food Chain 'ength


Food chains &ary in length from three to six or more levels. EX: A food chain consisting of a grass# a rabbit# a hawk consists of three le&els- whereas a food chain consisting of grass# a grasshopper# a rat# a snake and finally a hawk consists of fi&e le&els.

Food Chain
Producers# such as plants# are organisms that utilize solar energy or heat energy to synthesize starch. All food chains must start with a producer. i. ii. onsumers are organisms that eat other organisms. in most food chains# all the organisms in a food chain are consumers. /e call animals that eat plants - primary !first" consumers# )he ne$t group are carni&ores or omni&ores. )hey eat the primary consumers and are called 0 secondary consumers#

1eep-2ea Food Chain


%n the deep sea# food chains centered around hydrothermal vents e$ist in the absence of sunlight. hemosynthetic bacteria and archaea can use hydrogen sulfide from hydrothermal &ents as an energy source +$ust as plants use sunlight, to produce carbohydrates- they form the base of the food chain. %n a deep-sea food chain# tube worms# clams# and mussels harbor the chemosynthetic bacteria and make use of the food they produce. )hey are all eaten by crabs# which in turn they may be consumed by an octopus.

"cological 3yramids
An ecological pyramid +also trophic pyramid or energy pyramid, is a graphical representation designed to show the biomass or biomass producti&ity at each trophic le&el in a gi&en ecosystem. %iomass is the amount of li&ing or organic matter present in an organism. %iomass pyramids show how much biomass is present in the organisms at each trophic le&el# while productivity pyramids show the production or turno&er in biomass.

"cological 3yramids
"cological pyramids begin with i# producers 4 herbivores 4 carnivores that eat herbivores 4 carnivores that eat those carnivores 4 and so on...

.)here are basically 5 types of ecological pyramids. i. Pyramid of biomass ii. Pyramid of productivity iii. Pyramid of numbers

3yramid of biomass
An ecological pyramid of biomass shows the relationship between biomass and trophic le&el by quantifying the biomass present at each trophic le&el of an ecological community at a particular time. )ypical units are grams per meter&# or calories per meter&. )he pyramid of biomass may be 6inverted7. i. For e$ample# in a pond ecosystem# the standing crop of phytoplan'ton# at any gi&en point will be lower than the mass of the heterotrophs# such as fish and insects. )his is e$plained as the phytoplankton reproduce &ery quickly# but ha&e much shorter indi&idual li&es.

3yramid of producti&ity
An ecological pyramid of productivity is often more useful# showing the production or turno&er of biomass at each trophic le&el. %nstead of showing a single snapshot in time# producti&ity pyramids show the flow of energy through the food chain. )ypical units are grams per meter& per year or calories per meter& per year. /hen an ecosystem is healthy# this graph produces a standard ecological pyramid. )his is because in order for the ecosystem to sustain itself# there must be more energy at lower trophic levels than there is at higher trophic levels .

3yramid of numbers
An ecological pyramid of numbers shows graphically the population of each le&el in a food chain.