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Topic last updated: 09 Nov 2023
    • Biology Biology
    • Ico Science Science
    • 14-16
    • 55

Ecosystems and ecology

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Food chains

Food availability is an important biotic factors. 

Plants make their own food and animals do not.  Different animals eat the plants in their habitat.  Some other animals will then eat the animals which consumed the plants.

This is called a food chain.  

Animals at the top of the food chain do not get eaten by other animals. 

Below are some key words all about food chains:

  • Producer: A living thing that can make it’s own food. They synthesise their own complex molecules (such as glucose) and this is known as biomass. Producers are the source of all biomass in a community.
  • Consumer: A living thing that cannot make it’s own food so eats other plants and animals.
  • Herbivore: A living thing that eats plants.
  • Carnivore: A living thing that eats animals.
  • Omnivore: A living thing that eats both plants and animals.
  • Predator: A living thing that eats other animals by hunting.
  • Prey: An animal that a predator would eat.
  • Primary consumer: The animal which eats the producer
  • Secondary consumer: The animal which eats the primary consumer
  • Tertiary consumer: The animal which eats the secondary consumer

Here is a food chain that you would find in an ocean habitat. The arrows mean that energy is being transferred from one animal or plant to another, as one living thing eats the other.

Click on the numbers to see if they are producers or consumers.


Have a go at ordering the animals in this woodland habitat as well as determining whether they are a producer, a primary consumer, a secondary consumer or a tertiary consumer. Remember that the arrows mean the transfer of biomass.

Have a think about what would happen if the mice became extinct. What would this mean for the caterpillars and the owls?