Feeding Relationships in Ecology, Biology tutorial


The Feeding relationship among living organisms is the other approach to studying living organisms in their habitats. This approach is acceptable as organisms in their natural habitats are faced with the trouble of how to get adequate energy and nutrients to survive, reproduce and grow.

Feeding Relationships:

Organisms in their natural habitats represent a pronounced feeding relationship that is, what they feed on and what feeds on them. This is because they require energy to survive, reproduce and grow.

Autotrophs and Heterotrophs:

Organisms are classified into autotrophs and heterotrophs; this is depends on how they get food.

Autotrophs:  They make use of very simple inorganic substances from their surroundings. A typical illustration of autotrophs is the green plants. They require only water, sunlight, carbon-dioxide and inorganic ions like nitrate to survive, grow and reproduce. Such autotrophs which require light utilize the procedure of photosynthesis to prepare or synthesize complex organic molecules example: carbohydrates from simple organic. As they make use of light energy, they are termed to as photoautotroph example: green plants and photosynthetic bacteria. Those that utilize energy from chemicals are termed to as chemoautotroph.

Heterotrophs:  These are the organisms which can't prepare organic molecules from inorganic. Such organisms need an external source of organic carbon example: animals, fungi and several bacteria. Such organisms, thus, have to digest, ingest, absorb, assimilate and excrete the wastes. Heterotrophic feeding might be parasitic, holozoic, saprophytic, carnivorous and symbiotic or mutualistic.

Holozoic nutrition:  Organisms which feed on relatively big pieces of dead organic matter are termed to as holozoons. There are three groups of holozoons are recognized:

i) Carnivores:  They are animals which feed on other animals or flesh eaters or feeders example: lion, cheetah, tiger and so on are carnivores.

ii) Herbivores:  These are animals which feed mostly on plant materials example: cattle, sheep, goat and so on.

iii) Omnivores:  These are animals which mainly feed on a mixture of animal and plant food example: mostly humans, pigs and so on.

Trophic Levels:

The ecosystem is build up of three main components or professions, all these are concerned with the feeding methods, circulation of chemical elements and the flow of energy. Such component professions are: producers, consumers and decomposers.

1) Producers:  These are the autotrophs build up of the photoautotroph (that is, photosynthetic) and chemoautotrophs. They capture and carry energy into the ecosystem.

2) Consumers:  These get energy as ready-made food either directly or indirectly from the producers. That is, they are mostly heterotrophs. There are two kinds of consumers; that is the primary consumers and the secondary consumers: The Primary consumers feed directly on the producers whereas the secondary consumers feed on the primary consumers. Consumers are comprised of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.

3) Decomposers:  These are organisms which get their energy from organic components present in dead and decaying bodies of animals and plants. They in turn liberate chemical elements in the form of phosphates, nitrates, potassium and so on, example of decomposers comprise bacteria and fungi.

Food Chain:

A food chain exhibits the feeding relationship among organisms in a natural community, pointing out how energy is transferred from producers, consumers and decomposers. Note that producers (that is, green plants) are for all time the first component of a food chain. A food chain might comprise of three to five links or trophic levels; for example, a typical pond ecosystem might encompass the given food chain.

Algae → Water fleas → Tadpole → Water-beetle → Fish

Food webs

A food web comprises of all the food chains in a solitary ecosystem. Each and every living thing in an ecosystem is a portion of multiple food chains. Each food chain encompass one possible path that energy and nutrients might take as they move via the ecosystem. All of the overlapping and interconnected food chains in an ecosystem build up a food web.

Ecological Pyramids:

Ecological pyramid is as well termed as trophic pyramid or energy pyramid; it is graphically symbolized to represent the biomass or productivity of the biomass at each and every trophic level in an ecosystem. They are graphical demonstration of the structure of trophic levels of ecosystems.

The perception of ecological pyramid was introduced by Charles Elton; these pyramids are as well termed as Eltonian pyramids. The pyramids are a graphical depiction that portrays the number of organisms, biomass and productivity at each and every trophic level. All ecological pyramids start at the bottom with the producers and carry on through various trophic levels.

Ecological pyramids start with the producers at the base such as plants and they go on to different trophic levels such as herbivores consume plants, carnivores kill on herbivores and so forth. The uppermost level is at the top of the food-chain.

There are mainly three kinds of ecological pyramids as follows:

a) Pyramid of energy

b) Pyramid of numbers

c) Pyramid of biomass

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