All process in this world, whether living or non-living, needs energy. Living organisms are capable of producing energy or get it from the food they consume either by hunting or predating. They need this energy to maintain cells and tissues. It is also required for supporting voluntary and involuntary actions of the human body and to manage multiple processes within the body like reproduction, cell division, metabolism, digestion, circulation, excretion, hunting, and much more.
Sun is the ultimate source of energy on Earth. No energy can be produced without the sun. All living beings, especially plants have evolved special ways to capture the solar energy and use it for their food production so-called photosynthesis. There are special relationships and intercommunications which are involved in the transportation of energy. Once the energy is produced and captured, it is distributed throughout the various organisms. This transfer of energy is called the food web.
Food web is the network of food chains. It is a linear network where the producers are used or consumed by the predator (secondary & primary carnivores) and then detritivores and finally by decomposer species. When many such single food chains occur in an ecosystem, it is known as Food Web.
A food chain shows a direct transfer of energy between organisms. As every organism can feed on multiple things, a food web is a much more realistic and simplified method of transferring energy in an ecosystem.
They are the organisms that synthesize their own food and serve as the foundation for all food chains and webs. For example – plants, algae and few species of bacteria. They prepare their own food by converting sunlight into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. They use energy from the sunlight for converting carbon dioxide into simple glucose which is easily broken down to produce energy. The producers thus store the energy in the form of sugars for their later use.
The simple diagram of the Food web is as shown below.
They are also called herbivores animals who eat producers or plants. For certain extent, these primary consumers are also considered as prey species as they are quite often hunted and get eaten by other animals. Some of the primary consumers or herbivores living on the land are deer, antelope, chipmunks, mice, horses, elephants, birds, and some insects. Fish, zooplankton, snails, sea urchins, krill are few marine primary consumers.
10 Percent Energy Rule
Even though primary consumers feed on producers, they still getting their energy from the sun. As the primary consumers feed on plant and break down the food particles to release the energy.Primary consumers do not get 100% of the sun’s energy from the producers as only some amount of the sun’s energy is utilized by the plant to synthesize their food. In fact, they only get 10% of the energy. This is termed as the 10% Rule, which states that only 10 percent of the energy available get’s passed onto the next level of consumers.
Secondary consumers are the animals who feed on primary consumers. They eat meat and are called as predators because they hunt for their prey.Lion, hawks, snakes, coyotes, wolves, and spiders are few terrestrial secondary consumers.
They are the ones who feed on the secondary consumers. They are thus called the top predator. They are also termed as apex predators and have no natural enemies except human beings.