Difference between Food Chain and Food Web

Main Difference

The food chain and food web are different from each other because of complex network of different animals’ feeding relations are aggregated and the food chain only follows a direct, linear pathway of one animal at a time.

Food Chains

food-chainFood chain is a model that shows flow of energy and nutrients from one organism to another organism in an ecosystem. The length of a food chain depends upon the number of organisms.  It starts from  producer species such as tress or grass and ending at apex predator species such as grizzly bears or killer whales; detrivores such as earthworms or woodlice; or decomposer species like fungi or bacteria. A food also shows the relation between organisms as who they are related with each other by the food they eat. Plants and animals requires some type of food for survival. Plant produce their own found via photosynthesis process. Since they produce their own food they are called and producers while those organisms which do not produce their own food like animals and humans are known as consumers.

Food Web

food-webFood web or food cycle is the connection between food chains and what species eats what in an ecological system. Food web also known as consumer-resource system. Most communities in food web include various populations of producer organisms which are eaten by any number of consumer populations. For example, the green crab is a consumer and decomposer. In food web, producers are eaten by many different consumers, and most consumers onward are eaten by more than one predator. For example, a squirrel eats seeds, fruits, and nuts. The squirrel man be eaten by a fox or a raccoon. Fox also eats mice and grasshoppers , etc. Most organisms are part of several food chains. A food web starts with the producers in ecosystem and then branches off into interconnected food chains that show who eats whom in ecosystem.

Key Differences

  • Food chain is a single linear pathway through which food energy and nutrients travels in the ecosystem while food web is number of interconnected food chains through which energy and nutrients travels in the ecosystem.
  • In food chains, usually member of high trophic level feed upon a single type of organism of lower trophic level while in food web members of higher trophic level feed upon many organisms of lower trophic level.
  • In food chains, separate and isolated food chains increases the instability of the ecosystem. In food web, stability of the ecosystem increases by the presence of complex food webs.
  • Food chains have no effect on improving the adaptability and competitiveness of the organisms while more complex food webs improves the adaptability and competitiveness of the organisms.