All living things are connected, particularly when it comes to eating and being eaten. Food chains and food webs are ways of showing the food relationships between organisms in any given environment, from African Savannah to the coral reef. If one plant or animal is affected, all the others in the food web will be affected eventually.
A food chain depicts a single path as animals of a single habitat eat each other. Arrows are used to show how the relationship progresses. For example, at the bottom of a backyard food chain would be sunflower seeds, which would be eaten by a bird, which, in turn, would be eaten by a cat. A food chain begins with a producer or an organism which makes its own food. A plant or an animal can be in more than one food chain.
Food webs, on the other hand, show how many food chains are related. it is a more complex depiction of how the plants and animals in an ecosystem relate. A food web may begin with prairie grass, which would be eaten by insects, mice or rabbits, which would be eaten by different predators. More species are included in a food web, which uses a series of arrows to describe relationships.
Food chains and food webs comprise different types of consumers. A producer and its seeds or fruit are always at lowest level, followed by primary consumers, secondary consumers and tertiary consumers. Trees and grass are producers. Examples of primary consumers, which eat producers, are insects and mice. Secondary consumers eat primary consumers. Examples are toads and snakes. Tertiary consumers like red tail hawks or other raptors, eat secondary consumers.