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Food Chain Definition

A food chain shows energy flow from one organism to another in an ecosystem. For example, plants are eaten by consumers.

View Lesson on Food Webs: Cycling of Matter & Flow of Energy
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Food Webs: Cycling of Matter & Flow of Energy

Fun Facts

  • Food chains start with a large number of plants plants that make their own food through photosynthesis.
  • Food chains typically have 4 levels, though this can vary. Only 10% if energy is passed on through each level of a food chain.
  • Marine biologists study food chains within the ocean ecosystem, which impacts the food supply of humans.

Why Do We Need To Know About Food Chain

Learning about food chains helps us see how everything in nature is connected and why it’s important to keep everything balanced for our health and the planet. This information is used in jobs like marine biology to make sure the fish we eat doesn’t have harmful mercury in it.

Also, dieticians use what they know about food chains to create healthy eating plans, like school lunches or meals for people with allergies. This shows how understanding food chains is used in real life to keep us healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

When we consume food, what happens to the molecules?
When we eat food, our body breaks the molecules down through chemical processes. In cellular respiration, our bodies use sugar and oxygen to create energy for our bodies to use in different ways. The molecules are broken down into building blocks and put back together in different ways.
Why are there typically a larger number of producers than tertiary consumers in an ecosystem?
Only about 10% of energy is passed on to the next organism in a food chain, so there needs to be more of the living things lower in the energy pyramid to support the living things higher in the pyramid.
When living things die, why are there only bones remaining after some time?
Decomposers break down dead material. They break the dead matter into molecules like carbon dioxide and water, that go back into the soil.
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