food chain


food chain

noun

: a series of types of living things in which each one uses the next lower member of the series as a source of food

Full Definition of FOOD CHAIN

1
:  an arrangement of the organisms of an ecological community according to the order of predation in which each uses the next usually lower member as a food source
2
:  a hierarchy based on power or importance <at the top of the corporate food chain>

First Known Use of FOOD CHAIN

1920

food chain

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Sequence of transfer of matter and energy from organism to organism in the form of food. These interconnected feeding relationships intertwine locally into a food web because most organisms consume or are consumed by more than one other type of organism. Plants and other photosynthetic organisms (such as phytoplankton), which convert solar energy to food, are the primary food source. In a predator chain, a plant-eating animal is eaten by a larger animal. In a parasite chain (see parasitism), a smaller organism consumes part of a larger host and may itself be parasitized by even smaller organisms. In a saprophytic chain, microorganisms live on dead organic matter. Because energy, in the form of heat, is lost at each step, or trophic level, chains do not normally encompass more than four or five trophic levels.

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