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Food Web

Different food chains are often interconnected, i.e. a specific herbivore of one food chain may serve as food for the carnivore of several other food chains. Such interconnected food chains are called food web.

Many of the natural food chains and food webs have been affected due to human interference in the ecosystem. If all snakes in an ecosystem are killed, there will be an increase in the rodent population. Their food requirement in the form of green plants increases. Such a situation alters the stability of the ecosystem as a result of which it loses its equilibrium.

Importance of Food Web

  1. A food web does not allow any population to starve when members of the lower trophic level decrease in number.
  2. It does not allow a species to overgrow as increased availability will increase the chances of higher number of its predations.
  3. It allows endangered population to grow in size.
  4. Food webs provide stability to ecosystems.

Differences between food chain and food web are shown in Table


Food Chain

Food Web

It is a straight single pathway through which food energy travels in an ecosystem.

It consists of a number of interconnected food chains through which food energy passes in an ecosystem.

Members of higher trophic level feed upon a single type of organism of lower trophic level.

Members of higher trophic level can feed on a number of alternative organisms of the lower trophic level.

Presence of separate or isolated food chains adds to the instability of the ecosystem.

Presence of food web increases the stability of the ecosystem.

It does not add to adaptability and competitiveness of the organisms.

Food web increases adaptability and competitiveness of the organism.


Trophic level The feeding level of one or more organisms in a food web is called trophic level.

  • Producers occupy the first, herbivores the second and carnivores the third trophic level.

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