Rainforest food chains
are the pathways along which food is transferred between different
trophic levels within rainforest
First Level - Autotrophs, aka
Most autotrophs are plants,
which use light energy to photosynthesize.
An exception is
plants (on the photo below) but there are very few of them in the
world. Most other plants get their energy from photosynthesis and
intake of nutrients from the ground.
Second Level - Primary
Consumers - Herbivores On the
level are primary
herbivores. These animals eat plants and they can be insects, snails
and plants parasites, or vertebrates such as monkeys, lemurs, deer,
or birds that
eat nectar and different
birds such as most parrots and cockatoos are herbivores and
don't eat insects.
waterways, zooplankton and different small crustacians eat
phytoplankton. Many primary consumers are opportunistic
feeders and add heterotrophic material to their
autotrophic diet when it becomes available.
Level - Secondary consumers
- Small Carnivores
On the third level
are secondary consumers
- small carnivores.
These can be spiders, frogs, animal parasites, carnivorous mammals and
insect-eating birds. In the water, many fish eat zooplankton and are
eaten by other, larger fish.
Fourth Level - Tertiary Consumers
On the fourth level are tertiary
consumers - animals that eat small animals such as rats,
mice, fish, frogs, and small
snakes and other small
as an example from
Australia - quolls,
and birds like kookaburra
that eat frogs and small lizards.
Level - Quarternary
And on the fifth level
consumers - the top predators, such as tigers and other
cat- and dog-animals;
large non-poisonous snakes (boas and large pythons); sharks,
crocodiles, and us, humans.
Food Chains are Often
Things are, however,
more complex in reality - a bear could for example be on level three
when it eats plant material, and on level four when it eats fish or an
occasional small mammal, which most of them do. Likewise, a platypus
would be on level three when eating insects, and on level four when
eating small fish.
Us humans and other top predators could
create a level six
when we eat each other. We eat shark and crocofile
meat, and as we know, they eat us too.
Decomposition Completes the Cycle
And finally, there are detrivores,
which decompose dead animal matter, fallen leaves,
feces and other non-living organic material. Detrivores form an
important link back to primary producers
that use decomposed material
as nutrients. Tropical
Rainforest Food Chain
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