Food chain length[edit] Food chains are directional paths of trophic energy or, equivalently, sequences of links that start with basal species, such as producers or fine organic matter, and end with consumer organisms. [6]:370 This food web of waterbirds from Chesapeake Bay is a network of food chains The food chain's length is a continuous variable that provides a measure of the passage of energy and an index of ecological structure that increases in value counting progressively through the linkages in a linear fashion from the lowest to the highest trophic (feeding) levels.[7] Food chains are often used in ecological modeling (such as a three species food chain). They are simplified abstractions of real food webs, but complex in their dynamics and mathematical implications.[8] Ecologists have formulated and tested hypotheses regarding the nature of ecological patterns associated with food chain length, such as increasing length increasing with ecosystem size, reduction of energy at each successive level, or the proposition that long food chain lengths are unstable.[7] Food chain studies have an important role in ecotoxicology studies tracing the pathways and biomagnification of environmental contaminants.[9] Producers, such as plants, are organisms that utilize solar or chemical energy to synthesize starch. All food chains must start with a producer. In the deep sea, food chains centered on hydrothermal vents and cold seeps exist in the absence of sunlight. Chemosynthetic bacteria and archaea use hydrogen sulfide and methane from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps as an energy source (just as plants use sunlight) to produce carbohydrates; they form the base of the food chain. Consumers are organisms that eat other organisms. All organisms in a food chain, except the first organism, are consumers.[citation needed] In a food chain, there is also reliable energy transfer through each stage[how?]. However, all the energy at one stage of the chain is not absorbed by the organism at the next stage. The amount of energy from one stage to another decreases.[10]

See also[edit] Ecology portal Heterotroph Lithotroph Trophic pyramid Predator-prey interaction

References[edit] ^ Briand, F.; Cohen, J. E. (1987). "Environmental correlates of food chain length" (PDF). Science. 238 (4829): 956–960. doi:10.1126/science.3672136. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25.  ^ Post, D. M.; Pace, M. L.; Haristis, A. M. (2006). "Parasites dominate food web links". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (30): 11211–11216. doi:10.1073/pnas.0604755103.  ^ Elton, C. S. (1927). Animal Ecology. London, UK.: Sidgwick and Jackson. ISBN 0-226-20639-4.  ^ Allesina, S.; Alonso, D.; Pascal, M. "A general model for food web structure" (PDF). Science. 320 (5876): 658–661. doi:10.1126/science.1156269. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-05-15.  ^ Egerton, F. N. (2007). "Understanding food chains and food webs, 1700-1970". Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 88: 50–69. doi:10.1890/0012-9623(2007)88[50:UFCAFW]2.0.CO;2.  ^ Martinez, N. D. (1991). "Artifacts or attributes? Effects of resolution on the Little Rock Lake food web" (PDF). Ecological Monographs. 61 (4): 367–392. doi:10.2307/2937047.  ^ a b Vander Zanden, M. J.; B. J., Shuter; Lester, N.; Rasmussen, J. B. (1999). "Patterns of food chain length in lakes: A stable isotope study" (PDF). The American Naturalist. 154 (4): 406–416. doi:10.1086/303250. PMID 10523487.  ^ Post, D. M.; Conners, M. E.; Goldberg, D. S. (2000). "Prey preference by a top predator and the stability of linked food chains" (PDF). Ecology. 81: 8–14. doi:10.1890/0012-9658(2000)081[0008:PPBATP].0.CO;2].  ^ Odum, E. P.; Barrett, G. W. (2005). Fundamentals of ecology. Brooks/Cole. p. 598. ISBN 978-0-534-42066-6.  ^ Food chains and cycles, bitesize, BBC v t e Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Trophic components General Abiotic component Abiotic stress Behaviour Biogeochemical cycle Biomass Biotic component Biotic stress Carrying capacity Competition Ecosystem Ecosystem ecology Ecosystem model Keystone species List of feeding behaviours Metabolic theory of ecology Productivity Resource Producers Autotrophs Chemosynthesis Chemotrophs Foundation species Mixotrophs Myco-heterotrophy Mycotroph Organotrophs Photoheterotrophs Photosynthesis Photosynthetic efficiency Phototrophs Primary nutritional groups Primary production Consumers Apex predator Bacterivore Carnivores Chemoorganotroph Foraging Generalist and specialist species Intraguild predation Herbivores Heterotroph Heterotrophic nutrition Insectivore Mesopredators Mesopredator release hypothesis Omnivores Optimal foraging theory Predation Prey switching Decomposers Chemoorganoheterotrophy Decomposition Detritivores Detritus Microorganisms Archaea Bacteriophage Environmental microbiology Lithoautotroph Lithotrophy Microbial cooperation Microbial ecology Microbial food web Microbial intelligence Microbial loop Microbial mat Microbial metabolism Phage ecology Food webs Biomagnification Ecological efficiency Ecological pyramid Energy flow Food chain Trophic level Example webs Cold seeps Hydrothermal vents Intertidal Kelp forests Lakes North Pacific Subtropical Gyre Rivers San Francisco Estuary Soil Tide pool Processes Ascendency Bioaccumulation Cascade effect Climax community Competitive exclusion principle Consumer-resource systems Copiotrophs Dominance Ecological network Ecological succession Energy quality Energy Systems Language f-ratio Feed conversion ratio Feeding frenzy Mesotrophic soil Nutrient cycle Oligotroph Paradox of the plankton Trophic cascade Trophic mutualism Trophic state index Defense/counter Animal coloration Antipredator adaptations Camouflage Deimatic behaviour Herbivore adaptations to plant defense Mimicry Plant defense against herbivory Predator avoidance in schooling fish v t e Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components Population ecology Abundance Allee effect Depensation Ecological yield Effective population size Intraspecific competition Logistic function Malthusian growth model Maximum sustainable yield Overpopulation in wild animals Overexploitation Population cycle Population dynamics Population modeling Population size Predator–prey (Lotka–Volterra) equations Recruitment Resilience Small population size Stability Species Biodiversity Density-dependent inhibition Ecological effects of biodiversity Ecological extinction Endemic species Flagship species Gradient analysis Indicator species Introduced species Invasive species Latitudinal gradients in species diversity Minimum viable population Neutral theory Occupancy–abundance relationship Population viability analysis Priority effect Rapoport's rule Relative abundance distribution Relative species abundance Species diversity Species homogeneity Species richness Species distribution Species-area curve Umbrella species Species interaction Antibiosis Biological interaction Commensalism Community ecology Ecological facilitation Interspecific competition Mutualism Storage effect Spatial ecology Biogeography Cross-boundary subsidy Ecocline Ecotone Ecotype Disturbance Edge effects Foster's rule Habitat fragmentation Ideal free distribution Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis Island biogeography Landscape ecology Landscape epidemiology Landscape limnology Metapopulation Patch dynamics r/K selection theory Resource selection function Source–sink dynamics Niche Ecological niche Ecological trap Ecosystem engineer Environmental niche modelling Guild Habitat Marine habitats Limiting similarity Niche apportionment models Niche construction Niche differentiation Other networks Assembly rules Bateman's principle Bioluminescence Ecological collapse Ecological debt Ecological deficit Ecological energetics Ecological indicator Ecological threshold Ecosystem diversity Emergence Extinction debt Kleiber's law Liebig's law of the minimum Marginal value theorem Thorson's rule Xerosere Other Allometry Alternative stable state Balance of nature Biological data visualization Ecocline Ecological economics Ecological footprint Ecological forecasting Ecological humanities Ecological stoichiometry Ecopath Ecosystem based fisheries Endolith Evolutionary ecology Functional ecology Industrial ecology Macroecology Microecosystem Natural environment Regime shift Systems ecology Urban ecology Theoretical ecology List of ecology topics Retrieved from "" Categories: Systems ecologyHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statementsArticles with unsourced statements from September 2017Wikipedia articles needing clarification from September 2017

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