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Food Web

In natural environment or an ecosystem, the relationships between the food chains are inter-connected. These relationships are very complex, as one organism may be a part of multiple food chains. Hence, a web like structure is formed in place of a linear food chain. The web like structure if formed with the  interlinked food chain and such matrix that is interconnected is known as a food web. 

Food webs are an indispensible part of an ecosystem; these food webs allows an organism to obtain food from more than one type of organism of the lower trophic level. Every living being is responsible and is a part of multiple food chains in the given ecosystem. It is also referred to as a consumer-resource system.

A animal ecologist pioneer Charles Elton (1927) introduced the food web concept which he referred to as food cycle. Charles Elton described the concept of food web as : The carnivore animals prey upon the herbivores. These herbivores get the energy from sun-light. The later carnivores may also be preyed upon by other carnivores. Until a reach where an animal has no enemies it forms a terminus on this food cycle. There are chains of animals that are linked together by food, and all are dependent on plants in the long run. This is referred to as a food chain and  all the food chains in a community is known as the food cycle. 


Food Web Definition

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A food web is a graphical depiction of feeding connections among species of an ecological community. Food web consists of food chains of a particular ecosystem.  The food web is a illustration of various methods of feeding that links the ecosystem. The food web also defines the energy flow through species of a community as a result of their feeding relationships. All the food chains are interconnected and overlapping within an ecosystem and they make up a food web.  

Food Web Representation

Trophic Levels

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  • Food webs have trophic levels and trophic positions. 
  • Species of plants form the first level basal species. The basal species are also known as producers; these are resources species on which the primary consumers or primary predators feed on in the web. 
  • These primary predators do not feed on any other living creature other than the primary producers in the food web. 
  • The basal species can either consists of the autotrophs or the detritivores that also includes decomposing organic material and associated microorganisms and plant material. 
  • Autotrophs capture energy form sun-light and produce energy by the process of photosynthesis. Others get energy chemical oxidation of inorganic compounds.
  • In the top level are the apex predatores or the secondary predators, these species are not directly killed for its food resources. 
  • The intermediate trophic levels are filled with omnivorous species which feed on more than one trophic level and they cause the flow of energy through various food pathways from the basal species. 
  • The scheme of the tropic levels is such that the first trophic level consists the plants (level 1) and then the primary consumers or herbivores (level 2) and then the carnivores or secondary consumers (level 3). The detritivores are considered at the zero level of the food chain.   
Food Web in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystem

Tropical Forest Food Web

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Food Web in Forest

Grassland Food Web

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Food Web in Grassland Ecosystem

Tundra Food Web

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Tundra Biome Food Web

Boreal Forest Food Web 

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Boreal Forest Foodweb

Desert Food Web 

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Desert Food Web

Aquatic Food Web

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Aquatic Food Web
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