Difference Between Grazing and Detritus Food Chain

What is the Food Chain?

A Food chain is the sequence of transfers of matter and energy in the form of food from one organism to another organism. Food chains are connected locally into a food web because most organisms consume more than one type of animal or plant. Plants that convert solar energy to food by photosynthesis are the primary food source. In a predator food chain, a plant-eating animal is usually eaten by a flesh-eating animal. In a parasite food chain, a smaller organism consumes part of a larger host and may be consumed by even smaller organisms. And in a saprophytic food chain, microorganisms live on the dead organic matter.


We live in an environment where there are a number of organisms that live with us, such as plants, animals, insects, reptiles, and different kinds of plants and trees. These organisms are dependent on one another for food and nutrition. The organisms are placed on various levels as per their requirement of nutrition, and each level is known as a tropic level. There is a continuous transfer of energy in the form of food, and this transfer is termed as a food chain. The transfer can take place from one organism to another or from one level to another. 


A food chain can be defined as the transfer of energy and nutrients in the form of food from one organism to another. A food chain always starts with the producers and ends with the apex predator.


For eExample, gGrass   →   iInsects   →   lizard   →   sSnake.


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A food chain is of two types, gGrazing fFood cChain and dDetritus fFood cChain. There is a lot of difference between the grazing food chain and the detritus food chain, and here we will discuss it in detail. 


Grazing Food Chain

As we know, the primary source of energy is the Ssun. The plants convert the Ssun’s energy into food by the process of photosynthesis. This is the start of the grazing food chain. A food chain where the energy is gained by the organisms is from photosynthesis; it is termed as the gGrazing fFood cChain. 


The gGrazing food chain starts with the green plants as they are the producers and can perform photosynthesis. Then, the energy is transferred from the green plants to the herbivores. In a grazing food chain, the Ssun is the ultimate or primary source from which energy transfer takes place.


The gGrazing fFood cChain can be further subdivided into two types:

  • Predator Food Chain – Here, the autotrophs or producers are directly consumed by the herbivores.

  • Parasitic Food Chain - Here, the Herbivores that eat the producers are infected by parasites.


The gGrazing food chain is a type of food chain where the energy transfer is between the lowest trophic levels. 


Examples of gGrazing fFood cChain are:


Phytoplankton  → small fish → Large Fish


The aAbove food chain is an example of an aquatic grazing food chain. Here, we can see that the phytoplanktons which are the aquatic plants are consumed by small fishes which are eaten by large fishes.


Grass → Deer → Lion/Tiger.


Here is another example of a grazing food chain thatwhich represents the tTerrestrial animal food chain. 


Detritus Food Chain

In a dDetritus fFood cChain, the main source of nutrition is dead plants or animals. The detritus food chain does not depend on solar energy. The organisms that gain their energy from the dead remains of the plants or animals are known as dDetrivores or dDecomposers. 


In a detritus food chain, the energy is first transferred from the dead remains of plants and animals to the decomposers and then it is transferred to the predators feeding on the decomposers.


Examples of dDetritus fFood cChain are:

Dead Organic Matter → Microorganisms → Decomposers.


Here, tThe food chain starts with the dead remains of plants and animals, which is consumed by microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi. These microorganisms are eaten by decomposers such as snails, and earthworms, and the decomposers are finally consumed by other large animals.


Difference Between Grazing and Detritus Food Chain

Grazing fFood cChain and dDetritus fFood cChain have certain differences which we have listed down here.


Here, we have provided the distinguish between grazing and detritus food chain. are:

 

Basis of Difference

Grazing Food Chain

Detritus Food Chain

Definition

A grazing food chain is a food chain thatwhich starts with green plants as the main source of energy.

A detritus food chain is a food chain thatwhich starts with the dead remains of organisms as a main source of energy.

Energy Source

The primary source of energy in a grazing food chain is solar energy.

The dead remains of plants and animals act as the primary source of energy for the detritus food chain.

Organisms Involved

The gGrazing fFood cChain involves all the macroscopic or sub-soil organisms.

The dDetritus fFood cChain mainly involves microscopic organisms.

Importance

The grazing food chain releases energy into the ecosystem.

The detritus food chain uses a large amount of energy from the environment.

First Trophic Level

In the gGrazing fFood cChain, green plants form the first trophic level.

In the detritus food chain, the first trophic level is occupied by the decomposers. 


Implications of Grazing Food Chain

Implications of the grazing food chain are as follows:

  • Grazing food chain is directly dependent on the flow of solar energy and thus, the gross production of plants might be oxidized during respiration or can be eaten by herbivores or they may die and decay.

  • In the grazing food chain, sunlight energy serves as the primary source of energy.

  • This food chain always adds energy to the ecosystem.

  • The grazing Food Chain helps in the fixation of inorganic nutrients.

  • The grazing Food Chain involves every macroscopic organism.


Implications of Detritus Food Chain

Implications of the detritus food chain are listed below:

  • Energy for the detritus food chain is from the dead and decomposed matter known as detritus.

  • Detritus food chain acquires energy from detritus, utilizing the detritus to its fullest, with minimum wastage.

  • This food chain helps in solving inorganic nutrients.

  • This food chain includes subsoil species that can be macroscopic or microscopic.

  • In comparison with other kinds of food chains, this food chain has a much larger energy flow in a terrestrial ecosystem.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Do You Mean By Autotrophs?

Autotroph refers to those organisms that can produce food on their own. They produce food by the process of photosynthesis. They use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide and produce food in the presence of chlorophyll. Green plants are mostly considered as autotrophs. They are also called producers and hence form the first trophic level in a food chain. There are certain bacteria and algae that are considered as autotrophs as they can produce their own food. Autotrophs are considered as the most important part of a food chain as, without them, no food chain can be created. They provide food to various other animals.

2. Distinguish Between Grazing and Detritus Food Chain.

A food chain can be of two types, i.e. Grazing food chain and detritus food chain. A grazing food chain is the one where the main source of energy is the producers or green plants whereas, a detritus food chain is the one where the main source of energy is the dead remains of organisms. The grazing food chain releases energy into the environment, but the detritus food chain uses energy from the environment. The grazing food chain is large as compared to the detritus food chain. A Grazing food chain consists of microorganisms, but the detritus food chain consists mostly of microorganisms.

3. What are the types of grazing food chains?

There are two types of grazing food chains:

  • Predator chain: In the predator chain, one animal consumes another animal. The animal that got eaten is known as the prey and the animal that eats the prey is known as the predator.

  • Parasitic chain: In the parasitic chain, the plants and animals in a grazing food chain are infected by parasites.

4. What are the examples of detritus food chains?

An example of the detritus food chain is the leaves of a mangrove tree. Whenever the leaves of a red mangrove tree fall into a shallow water body, only about five per cent of the leaves are eaten by phytophagous insects before they fall.


These parts of the leaves are usually eaten by smaller organisms like insect larvae, crabs, copepods, etc. Then, these organisms are consumed by fishes that are carnivores. And finally, these fishes are eaten by larger fishes or fish-eating birds.

5. What are the features of the grazing food chain?

Features of the grazing food chain are as follows:

The grazing food chain depends on the Sun that is a primary source of energy in this food chain.


Various factors are affecting the grazing food chain including oxidation of plants, virus attack, and plant decay due to increased water flow.


The grazing food chain helps in adding energy to the environment and it is also helpful in fixing inorganic nitrogen in the soil.


The grazing Food chain involves every macroscopic organism which means all the organisms that are visible to the naked eye are involved in this food chain.

6. What is the detritus food chain?

 Detritus food chain begins from organic matter of dead and decaying animals and plant bodies from the grazing food chain. These dead organic matter or detritus feeding organisms are called detritivores or decomposers and the detritivores are then eaten by predators. And in an aquatic ecosystem, the grazing food chain is the major conduit for energy flow.

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