What is the difference between a food chain and a food web?
A food chain refers to the transfer of energy(food) from the producers through a series of organisms with repeated eatings. A network of food chains (interconnected food chains) is called a food web.
Food chains are overly simplistic as representatives of what typically happens in nature. The food chain shows only one pathway of energy and material transfer. Most consumers feed on multiple species and are, in turn, fed upon by multiple other species. The relations of detritivores and parasites are seldom adequately characterized in such chains as well. The food chain has a producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, decomposer.
A food web is a set of interconnected food chains by which energy and materials circulate within an ecosystem . So, it is complex in nature. The food web is divided into two broad categories: the grazing web, which typically begins with green plants, algae, or photosynthesizing plankton, and the detrital web, which begins with organic debris. These webs are made up of individual food chains. In a grazing web, materials typically pass from plants to plant eaters (herbivores) to flesh eaters (carnivores). In a detrital web, materials pass from plant and animal matter to bacteria and fungi (decomposers), then to detrital feeders (detritivores), and then to their predators (carnivores).
Generally, many interconnections exist within food webs. For example, the fungi that decompose matter in a detrital web may sprout mushrooms that are consumed by squirrels, mice, and deer in a grazing web. Robins are omnivores, that is, consumers of both plants and animals, and thus are in both detrital and grazing webs. Robins typically feed on earthworms, which are detritivores that feed upon decaying leaves.
An organism can occupy only one trophic level in a food chain while an organism can occupy more than one trophic level in a food web.
The series of organisms fixing energy, eating and being eaten is called a food chain. Food chain can be traced in any ecosystem such as grass, grasshoppers, frogs, snakes and vultures in a grassland. Thus there are four to five steps or links in a food chain where food energy is transferred to the next trophic level.
The food relations are not always so simple. In fact it is rather complicated and many organisms behave differently in their food habits. Trophic relationship between organisms of any ecosystem is not always in simple chain like fashion but forms complicated network. This net like trophic interrelationship is called a food web.
The difference between a food chain and a food web is that the food chain is much more simple. It doesn't show a variety of consumer/producers and it the energy flow only goes 1 way . A food web, is much more complex, with the energy flow going multiple ways.
Both are diagrams that show flow of energy threw an ecosystem. A Food chain only show a single directional flow through the trophic levels form producer to consumers, while a food web can show multidirectional flow of energy.
FOOD CHAIN: (one direction)
FOOD WEB: multi directional flow
A food chain is a linear consequence of links in a food web starting from a species that are called producers in the web and ends at a species that is called decomposers species in the web.