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What is Food Chain? – Definition, Characteristics, Uses, Importance

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  • Last Updated : 01 Sep, 2022
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Before we have to know about the food chain we have to know clearly about the food chain and about animals that eat different food so that they survive in a cycle manner. A food chain is related to the food that is eaten by the living organisms on the earth. Before going to know about the food chain what are the animals on the earth and what are the food items they will eat to survive. We have to know about the types of the food chain.

In the environment in which an animal eats which types of animal. In this process, energy is transferred from one animal to another animal. It is one of the processes in the ecosystem that relay needed to survive by the living organisms on the earth. A food chain is divided into two types:

  • Detritus food chain
  • Grazing food chain

Detritus Food Chain      


Detritus food chain is one of the types of the food chain. Detritus food chain begins with dead organisms. Dead organisms in the detritus food chain are decomposed or get mixed with soil with the help of microorganisms. Organisms or living being which feed on dead organisms is called detritivores or decomposers.          



Detritivores name Scientific name
Millipede Diplopoda
Woodlice Oniscidea
Dung beetles Scarabaeidae
Fiddler Crabs  Uca
Sea cucumbers Holothuroidea

Characteristics of Detritus food chain

  • Photosynthesis does not happen in the detritus food chain because it is in dark places like lakes.
  • This food chain has a continuous flow of energy.
  • Dead organisms are the first food for the other animals.
  • This type of food chain happens rarely in the presence of sunlight.
  • This food chain helps in minimizing the waste and maximizing the use of waste dead content.

Uses of Detritus food chain

  • This food chain is used to dissolve inorganic nutrients.
  • Detrivores’ excreted products are used by other organisms in this detritus food chain.

Importance of Detritus food chain

In this detritus, food chain decomposers are the main important for dissolving in the soil. Micro organisms are used for decomposition position and decomposed organisms are eaten by the other organism.

Grazing Food Chain

The grazing food chain is one of the types of food chain mentioned above. This Grazing food chain prepared food from the plants themselves with the help of sun rays and the photosynthesis process. This food chain starts with plants that prepare food for themselves as well as for other living beings. Prepared food by the plant is eaten by herbivores(those who eat only plants), herbivores are eaten by the omnivores( those who eat both herbivores and plants), and omnivores are eaten by the carnivores( those who eat only meat like a lion). 

Types of Grazing food chain

  • Parasitic food chain
  • Predator food chain

Characteristics of Grazing food chain:

  • The grazing food chain mainly depends on the sun which is the single energy source for the plants to prepare food.
  • In this food chain, microscopic organisms are a part of the Grazing food chain as decomposers.
  • This food chain helps the environment by adding energy to the environment by fixing inorganic nitrogen in the soil.

Structure of the Grazing food chain:

Grazzing Food Chain


Uses of Grazing food chain:

  • Sun is the first usage in this grazing food chain.
  • This grazing food chain uses plants for the process of photosynthesis.

Importance of Grazing food chain:

  • This food chain adds energy to the major ecosystem.
  • This food chain starts in the lower tropical and passes energy into the ecosystem.

Difference between food chain and food web 

Food chain 

Food web

The food chain is defined as the level of animal connection in the ecosystem for the survival in food. The Food web is defined as a food chain connection in a single ecosystem.
 The food chain will disturb if one level of animal is disturbed. The Food web will not disturb if any level in the food chain disturbs.
 In the food chain, top-level animals feed upon lower-level single animals only. In the food web, higher-level animals feed upon the several animals in the lower animals only.
It is a simple process in the ecosystem. It is a complex process in the ecosystem.
The food chain has types like grazing food chain and detritus food chain. Food web has types like Connectance Food Webs, Interaction Food Webs, Fossil Food Webs, Energy Flow Food Webs, and Functional Food Webs.

Importance of food chain:

  • The food chain explains which animal is in which tropical level to know.
  • The food chain is one of the important topics in the ecosystem because without a food chain no animal can survive without feeding.
  • In the food chain plants are the main producers in this ecosystem. Because of this food chain, world is surviving.

Conceptual questions 

Question 1: What is the tropical level in the food chain? Explain which animals are related to which tropic levels.


Tropical level in the food chain is related to the position of a particular animal in the food chain. There are different types of animal families like producers, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores in the food chain. 

  • Tropical level-1: Producers(plants)
  • Tropical level- 2: Herbivores(goats, eat plants only)
  • Tropical level-3: Omnivores( which eat both plants and animals)
  • Tropical level-4: Carnivores( which eats only animals)

Question 2: What are producers? Explain how producers help in the ecosystem.


Producers are the ones that produce for someone who eats producers. In our ecosystem producers are planting themselves. Plant produce food for themselves as well as for others also. This is how producers help our ecosystem to sustain the life of every living things. 

Question 3: Draw the pyramid structure of food chain levels according to the ecosystem.



Question 4: What is a food chain?. Explain with an example.


The food chain is defined as the process of telling which animal is eaten by which animal in our ecosystem. Let’s suppose a goat eats grass and leaves whereas the goat is eaten by the dogs so that dogs are eaten by the lions. This is how the food chain flows from one tropical level to another.

Question 5: Is the food chain continuing without disturbance if one of the tropical levels disturbs or collapses?


No, the food chain cannot able to continue if one of the tropical levels collapses. This is because of the dependency of one tropical level on another tropical level. For example, herbivores depend only on plants only without plants there is no food for herbivores and they did not eat meat items like that. This is why every tropical level is important for the food chain to flow without disturbance.

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