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Building a food chain


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A food chain is an organized series of living things linked together by an alimentary (food related) relationship.  Animals draw the energy needed for survival from their food.

At the base of such a chain one finds the producers. These are terrestrial  plants or aquatic ones (algae, phytoplankton). They make their own organic matter from nutrients, CO2, and light (photosynthesis).

The animals situated one step up on the chain are the first level consumers: the herbivores.  They are the prey of the second level consumers: the carnivores.

A carnivore that doesn’t have any predators is called an apex predator. These are situated at the top of the chain.

An arrow stands for “…is eaten by…”. A food chain is made up of links that can also be part of other chains. They are branches of a vast alimentary network.

This animation omits the  role of decomposers. These are organisms and microorganisms that degrade dead organic matter (wastes, dead plants and animals). They provide the larger part of the nutrients that are recycled by the producers.

Click on the « arrows » button to obtain an arrow.

Click on an animal to place the tail of the arrow, then click on another animal to place the arrow's head.

Click and drag the animals to move them around.

Learning goals

  • To classify organisms according to their role in a food chain: producers, herbivores, carnivores, apex predators.
  • To teach the interdependence among all of the organisms inside an ecosystem.
  • To mention that many chains exist within the same ecosystem. A food chain is a branch of an alimentary network.
  • To approach the notions of trophic network and food web.
  • To approach the notions of predator and prey.


Learn more

food chain is a linear representation of the links that govern the species living in the same ecosystem.  Animals eat a variety of foods – as a result, they belong to several different chains.…

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