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A trophic level refers to the position an organism occupies within a food web or chain. For example, all the plants such as trees, grass, flowers in your neighborhood represent the first trophic level also known as producers or autotrophs. These organisms capture sunlight directly and convert it to chemical energy of carbohydrates, via photosynthetic activity. The next trophic level is the herbivores or primary consumers which eat the producers. These can include rabbits, insects, squirrels, certain birds, that feed on leaves, seeds and roots of plants for energy. The next trophic level is the secondary consumers which include carnivores that can eat the herbivores. In this example a fox that eats a rabbit, a frog that eats insects are all examples of carnivores. There can be more consumers in a complex food web that can be carnivores, eating members from the previous level or omnivores, that can feed on both plants and animals. At the top of the food chain or web, are the people who live in the neighborhood, with no predators hunting them. Remember that in all food chains or webs, decomposers are present to break down and recycle dead animal and plants and their wastes, adding nutrients back to the environment again as well as energy. These can be represented by bacteria of decay living in soil and fungi like mushrooms growing on a dead tree trunk.
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