Rainforest Food Web


A Rainforest food web is built by the interconnected food chains within rainforest ecosystem.


Rainforest ecosystem, just like other ecosystems, has a trophic structure.


Species in an ecosystem can be divided into different trophic levels depending on their main source of food.

A Young Proboscis Monkey Eats a Piece of Fruit
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The first level consists of plants - primary producers or autotrophs. This level ultimately supports all others.

Looking Down Upon Floating Aquatic Plants That Look Like Shamrocks
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Organisms on all the other levels, whether herbivores or carnivores, are heterotrophs, which all depend (directly or indirectly) on the products of photosynthesis, produced by autotrophs.



Detrivores - organisms that decompose fallen leaves, dead animals and other non-living organic matter, form an important link back from heterotrophs to autotrophs, which get their nutrients from decomposed plant and animal matter. 

Swallowtail Butterfly, Larva Eating, Italy
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The routes of chemical cycling and energy flow depend on ecosystem processes as well as trophic structure of an ecosystem. The pathways along which food is transferred between different levels within rainforest ecosystem are called rainforest food chainsA food web contains different amounts of food chains, depending on the ecosystem and how many species and resources it contains. 

Golden Lion Tamarin, Feeding, Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil
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Even a single food chain is seldom simple and often branches off at some point. Many types of primary consumers for example can feed on the same plant species. And one consumer can eat many different things, from different trophic levels. Small reptiles can eat insects that are also eaten by different birds. And omnivores eat both plants and animals. The food chains together build the complex rainforest food web.

Cat-Eyed Snake, Eating Red-Eyed Tree Frog Eggs, Costa Rica
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As mentioned above, ecosystem processes also affect the chemical cycling and energy flow. Production is the process by which energy is incorporated into the bodies of organisms. All organisms are actually producers, but plants are called primary producers because their production supports all other organisms' production.   

Tarantula, Eating Snake, Venezuela
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Consumption is the process by which organisms grow and reproduce. Thus all organisms, including autotrophs, are also consumers. Decomposition is the process by which organic materials are broken down to inorganic materials.

A Mother Mountain Lion and Her Cubs Eat a Freshly-Killed Rabbit

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Rainforest Food Chains

Tropical Rainforest Food Web

Tropical Rainforest Food Chain

Temperate Rainforest Food Chain




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