Who eats whom?
Describing the flow of energy within an ecosystem essentially answers this question. To survive, one must eat. Why? To get energy. Food chains and webs describe the transfer of energy within an ecosystem, from one organism to another. In other words, they show who eats whom.
Food Chains and Food Webs
Food chains and food webs are diagrams that represent feeding relationships. Essentially, they show who eats whom. In this way, they model how energy and matter move through ecosystems.
A food chain represents a single pathway by which energy and matter flow through an ecosystem. An example is shown in the figure below. Food chains are generally simpler than what really happens in nature. Most organisms consume—and are consumed by—more than one species.
A food web represents multiple pathways through which energy and matter flow through an ecosystem. It includes many intersecting food chains. It demonstrates that most organisms eat, and are eaten, by more than one species. Examples are shown in the figures below and below.
Examples of food webs.
Science Friday: Can Underwater Parks Protect Coral?
Coral communities are incredibly important for marine life. In this video by Science Friday, Marine John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig describe the effects of local Marine Protection Areas on preserving coral.
- Food chains and food webs are diagrams that represent feeding relationships.
- Food chains and webs model how energy and matter move through ecosystems.