What is a food chain?
A food chain describes how different organisms eat each other, starting out with a plant and ending with an animal. For example, you could write the food chain for a lion like this:
grass ---> zebra ---> lion
The lion eats the zebra, which eats the grass.
Links in the Chain
There are names to help describe each link of the food chain. The names depend mostly on what the organism eats and how it contributes to the energy of the ecosystem.
- Producers - Plants are producers. This is because they produce energy for the ecosystem.
- Consumers - Animals are consumers. This is because they don't produce energy, they just use it up.
- Decomposers - Decomposers eat decaying matter (like dead plants and animals). They help put nutrients back into the soil for plants to eat.
Links higher up in the food chain rely on the lower links. Even though lions don't eat grass, they wouldn't last long if there wasn't any grass because then the zebras wouldn't have anything to eat.