All living things need to feed to get energy to grow, move and reproduce. But what do these living things feed on? Smaller insects feed on green plants, and bigger animals feed on smaller ones and so on. This feeding relationship in an ecosystem is called a food chain. Food chains are usually in a sequence, with an arrow used to show the flow of energy. Below are some living things that can fit into a food chain. Can you build it? Click to play.
Would you like to see a good example of another food chain in the Tundra? Click here!
A food chain is not the same as a food web.
A food web is a network of many food chains and is more complex.
See the food web illustration below—you can pick out a basic food chain from the web: Green plants Grasshopper Frog Bird Hawk
In the diagram above, the arrows show the direction of energy flow. It points to the animal doing the eating.
Energy is transferred along food chains from one level to the next. Some of the energy is used up in growth, reproduction repair, movement and other ways, and not made available to the next level.
Shorter food chains retain more energy than longer chains. Used up energy is absorbed by the environment.