What is rainforest food web? How does this system work in the tropical rainforest?
A Rainforest food web is built by the interconnected food chains within rainforest ecosystem. Rainforest ecosystem,just like other ecosystems, has a trophic structure. Species in an ecosystem can be divided into different trophic levels depending on their main source of food.
The structure of tropical rainforest food web
The first level of the tropical rainforest food web consists of plants – primary producers or autotrophs. This level ultimately supports all others.
Organisms on all the other levels, whether herbivores or carnivores, are heterotrophs, which all depend (directly or indirectly) on the products of photosynthesis, produced by autotrophs. Detrivores – organisms that decompose fallen leaves, dead animals and other non-living organic matter, form an important link back from heterotrophs to autotrophs, which get their nutrients from decomposed plant and animal matter.
Tropical Rainforest Food Web And Food Chain
The routes of chemical cycling and energy flow depend on ecosystem processes as well as trophic structure of an ecosystem. The pathways along which food is transferred between different levels within rainforest ecosystem are called tropical rainforest food chains. A food web in the tropical rainforest contains different amounts of food chains, depending on the ecosystem and how many species and resources it contains.
Even a single food chain is seldom simple and often branches off at some point. Many types of primary consumers for example can feed on the same plant species. And one consumer can eat many different things, from different trophic levels. Small reptiles can eat insects that are also eaten by different birds. And omnivores eat both plants and animals. The food chains together build the complex rainforest food web.
As mentioned above, ecosystem processes also affect the chemical cycling and energy flow. Production is the process by which energy is incorporated into the bodies of organisms. All organisms are actually producers, but plants are called primary producers because their production supports all other organisms’ production.
Consumption And Decomposition In Tropical Rainforest
Consumption is the process by which organisms grow and reproduce. Thus all organisms, including autotrophs, are also consumers. Decomposition is the process by which organic materials are broken down to inorganic materials. These two types of process happen all the time in the tropical rainforest, and they are essential to the tropical rainforest food web.