Food chains show one possible path along with which energy can flow through an ecosystem. Just as you do not eat the same thing everyday, neither do most organisms. Most producers and consumers are part of many food chains. The images below show other possible food chains that exist in a prairie ecosystem.

The network of feeding interactions is called a food web. Look at the food web below. This shows a more realistic flow of energy through an ecosystem. A food web consists of many overlapping food chains in an ecosystem.

If all four of the prairie food chains were put together, the resulting food web would be illustrated as shown below.

Interactive exercise. Assistance may be required. Now, look back at the feeding relationships in the ocean ecosystem. Scroll over each organism pictured below to learn more about its feeding habits. Decide which organism belongs in the indicated location in the food web.

If you follow one feeding pattern through the food web, you can create a food chain and assign tropic levels to the organism.

Interactive exercise. Assistance may be required. Drag the organism to the correct trophic level on the food chain.

Sources for images used in this section, as they appear, top to bottom: