Who start the food chain?

Producers, also known as autotrophs, make their own food. They constitute the first level of every food chain. Autotrophs are usually single-celled plants or organisms. A food chain shows how every living thing obtains its food.

Some animals eat plants and some animals eat other animals. For example, a simple food chain links trees and shrubs, giraffes (which feed on trees and shrubs) and lions (who eat giraffes). Each link in this chain is food for the next link. All food chains start with energy from the Sun.

This energy is captured by plants. Therefore, the living part of a food chain always begins with plant life and ends with an animal. In the depths of the sea, there are food chains focusing on hydrothermal vents and cold leaks in the absence of sunlight. About 50% of the energy (possibly up to 90%) in food is lost at each trophic level when an organism is ingested, making it less efficient to be a higher-order consumer than a primary consumer.

The food chain, in ecology, is the sequence of transfers of matter and energy in the form of food from one organism to another. Chemosynthetic bacteria and archaea use hydrogen sulfide and methane from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps as an energy source (just as plants use sunlight) to produce carbohydrates; they form the basis of the food chain. Food chains are directional pathways of trophic energy or, equivalently, sequences of links that begin with basal species, such as producing species or fine organic matter, and end in consumer organisms. Just as an arc collapses when the cornerstone is removed, an entire food chain can collapse if a key species declines.

Food chains are locally intertwined in a food web because most organisms consume more than one type of animal or plant. The length of the food chain is important because the amount of energy transferred decreases as the trophic level increases; usually, only ten percent of the total energy from one trophic level goes on to the next, since the rest is used in the metabolic process. Environmentalists have formulated and tested hypotheses about the nature of ecological patterns associated with the length of the food chain, such as the increase in length with the size of the ecosystem, the reduction of energy at each successive level, or the assertion that long food chains are unstable. As you probably know, the organisms at the base of the food chain are photosynthetic: terrestrial plants and the phytoplankton (algae) of the oceans.

Plants are called producers because they can use light energy from the Sun to produce food (sugar) from carbon dioxide and water. A food chain differs from a food web because the complex network of food relationships between the different animals adds up and the chain only follows a linear and direct route of one animal at a time. A key species is one that has a major impact on the surrounding environment and can directly affect the food chain. They are simplified abstractions of real food networks, but complex in their dynamics and mathematical implications.

These decomposers accelerate the decomposition process that returns mineral salts to the food chain for plants to absorb as nutrients.

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