Evolutionary Biology Topics allow us to trace the history of life on Earth.
What is a Food Web ?
A large number of food chains exist in a community of living organisms in an ecosystem such as a grassland, a forest, a pond or a crop-field. Many of these food chains are inter-connected by species (organisms) which occur in more than one food chain. The inter-connected food chains operating in an ecosystem which establish a network of relationships between various species, is called a food web.
In simple words, the network of a large number of food chains existing in an ecosystem is called a food web. The food web has many intercrosses and linkages among the various species (producers and consumers) present in it. This means that the various food chains in an ecosystem do not operate in isolation (or alone).
They operate in the form of a net-work of food chains called food web. A food web is shown in Figure.
In this food web, we can see a network of numerous pathways along which the food (or energy) flows within grassland community. This food web starts from the plants which is a producer and ends in top carnivore hawk (baaz). There are as many as six food chains operating in the food web shown above which have been marked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (see Figure).
1. In the 1st food chain, plants are eaten by rabbit and then rabbit is eaten by hawk :
Plants → Rabbit → Hawk
2. In the 2nd food chain, plants are eaten by mice (or rats) and the mice are eaten by hawks :
Plants → Mice → Hawk
3. In the 3rd food chain, plants are eaten by mice; mice are eaten by snakes and then snakes are consumed by hawks :
Plants → Mice → Snake → Hawk
4. In the 4th food chain, plants are eaten by seed-eating birds and the seed-eating birds are consumed by hawks :
Plants → Seed-eating Bird → Hawk
5. In the 5th food chain, plants are eaten up by grasshopper and the grasshopper is consumed by hawks:
Plants → Grasshopper → Hawk
6. In the 6th food chain, plants are eaten by grasshopper, grasshopper is eaten by frog, frog is eaten by snake and then snake is consumed by hawk :
Plants → Grasshopper → Frog → Snake → Hawk