In order to survive and grow, all the species need food. The process of taking up food is called ingestion which is followed by digestion, where the food is chemically and mechanically broken down into simpler substances.
In different species, the mode of ingestion is different. Human beings are reported to chew their food, while snakes and frogs swallow. On the other hand, hummingbirds and butterflies eat their food by sucking. Animals that feed on plants and animals are known as omnivores. A few examples include- dogs, cats, and crows.
Human beings consume plants, animals, fruits, vegetables, and other varieties of foods, hence, they fall under the class of omnivores. Some animals have developed digestive systems while the lower organisms do not have well-developed digestive organs.
Animals can be classified into different groups depending on what animals eat. Apart from the major groups like, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores, specialised groups like frugivores that mainly feed on raw fruits and plant parts such as shoots, roots, and seeds are also present. For example, a monkey consumes fruit and throws its seed, the seed then germinates under proper environmental conditions and forms plants. An interconnection is, therefore, present between the plant and the animals.
Other groups include sanguivorous that feed on the blood of other living organisms Examples: Mosquitoes, bloodsucking spiders, and leeches.
Scavengers are animals that feed on decayed plants and animals. Example: Vultures. Lastly, the parasites are reported to live inside the other animals or hosts for their food. Examples: Tapeworm (stays in the human intestine), Plasmodium vivax (carried by Anopheles mosquitoes).
Animals are unable to prepare their own food, unlike plants. The animals, therefore, feed on plants, plant products, and animals to obtain energy for their growth and survival. All animals, including humans, fall under consumers in the food chain. The primary and secondary consumers consume plants and other animals respectively, while the tertiary consumers are the predators.
Nutrition is a process in which carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and water are taken up by an organism. Plants are autotrophs as they can synthesise their own food by photosynthesis. Animals are heterotrophs as they cannot synthesise their own food from simple inorganic materials like carbon dioxide and water, rather they depend on other organisms for their food.
The Different Trophic Levels with Examples
A food chain is a possible pathway through which energy and nutrients flow through the ecosystem. This chain shows the way living organisms obtain their food. A simple food chain links the trees and shrubs, the giraffes (secondary consumer), and the lions (tertiary consumer). All the food chains are reported to start with energy from the sun that is captured by plants.
The plants are called producers as they can prepare their food by photosynthesis where the light energy is converted to chemical energy. Animals are consumers and lastly, there are decomposers (bacteria, fungi, and even some worms)that feed on decaying matter. These decomposers release nutrients and mineral salts which are again absorbed by the plants.
When a herbivore (plant-eating animal) eats food, a small fraction of the energy is converted to body mass but the rest of the energy is lost in the life processes of the herbivores, a similar process occurs for carnivores (meat-eating animals). Hence, the amount of energy transferred decreases each time because it is lost at each link. As we proceed along the food chain less food or energy remains available.
The progression of food energy through the food chain can also be represented in the form of a pyramid. As most animals consume more than one variety of food they are part of more than one food chain, the food chain becomes interconnected in this case, this type of food chain is called a food web.
The energy pyramid explains how energy moves from one trophic level in the food chain to another trophic level. The 10% law states that 90% of the energy gathered in the previous level is wasted as heat, leaving just 10% accessible for the following level.
A herbivore is an organism that gets its nutrition from plants. Carnivores feed on other animals and omnivores consume a variety of food including plants, animals, and vegetables.
A food chain can be defined as a linear network starting from producer organisms and ending at decomposer species.
Animals are reported to ingest their food by either chewing, swallowing, or sucking.
1. What is filter feeding?
Filter feeding is the process of food consumption by organisms. The food particles are randomly strained from water by the organisms. Some examples include flamingos and baleen whales.
2. Do animals move to get their food?
Animals can move from one place to the other in search of their food. Birds are reported to travel the greatest distance to breed. Hoofed animals travel longer distances for grazing. Unicellular animals extend their cell membranes in search of food.
3. What are the chief components of food?
The main components of food are minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water. After digestion, the food is broken down by enzymes into these components.