You currently have JavaScript disabled on this browser/device. JavaScript must be enabled in order for this website to function properly.

ZingPath: Energy Flow

Food Chains and Food Webs

Searching for

Energy Flow

Learn in a way your textbook can't show you.
Explore the full path to learning Energy Flow

Lesson Focus

Food Chains and Food Webs

Life Science

Learning Made Easy

You will get to learn interesting new details about the flow of matter and energy through food chains, food webs, and ecological pyramids. Then, use your knowledge to save a population of eagles from extinction in a realistic simulation of a National Park.

Over 1,200 Lessons: Get a Free Trial | Enroll Today

Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define food chains.
  • Define food webs.
  • Analyze the flow of matter through food chains.
  • Analyze the flow of matter through food webs.
  • Analyze the flow of energy through food webs.

Everything You'll Have Covered

How do green plants use the sun's energy to produce food?

~ Green plants use sunlight to combine water molecules, carbon dioxide, and nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, to produce food.

What are consumers? What happens to the food they eat?

~ Consumers are animals that eat plants, fungi, and other animals to get both the molecules they need to grow and the energy they need to survive. However, only some of the molecules that are broken down are used to carry out the consumer's vital activities. The rest of the released energy is lost as heat.

What happens when producers and consumers excrete waste or die?

~ When producers and consumers excrete waste or die, some of their waste and their bodies become food for decomposers such as bacteria and fungi. The decomposers use this gained energy to survive.

Explain the one-way flow of the food chain.

~ Green plants use the energy from the sun, combined with water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients to produce food. When an animal consumes a plant, both the food's molecules and its energy are transferred to the animal. So the animal is a consumer. Some of the consumed food's energy is used for vital activities while the rest is lost as heat. The same happens when an animal is eaten by another animal. Some of the consumed food's energy is used for vital activities while the rest is lost as heat. As food molecules pass through ecosystems, the molecules recycle, but the energy does not. Ecologists call this one-way flow of matter and energy from a producer to a primary, then to secondary, and perhaps to a tertiary consumer, a food chain.

What limitation is placed on single food chains?

~ Single food chains do not show all the feeding relationships in ecosystems. The food web shows all the organisms at each feeding level or trophic level.

According to the food web at the end of the animation, which animals consume plants? At which trophic level are these animals?

~ In the food web at the end of the animation, squirrels, insects, rabbits, and mice eat green plants. The animals are at the second trophic level.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be able to define the following terms: biology, consumer, and decomposers.
Course Life Science
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary biology, consumers, decomposers, ecology, ecosystems, energy, food chains, food webs, primary consumers, producers, secondary consumers, trophic levels