At the conclusion of the lesson, your child will be able
- define food chain and food web
- understand how organisms in an ecosystem are interrelated
- create a food chain for rainforest
A food chain is a feeding pattern in which energy from food
passes from one level to the next in a sequence. All living things are linked in food
chains. The sun is the principal source of energy for all of them.
One common food pattern is called the grazing food chain. Grasses and other green
plants (the producers) using solar energy are the base of this food
chain. They are eaten by herbivores (the consumers). Herbivores are
consumed by carnivores or by omnivores. Another common food chain, called the detritus
food chain, begins with the remains of plants and animals. These remains are slowly broken
down by organisms, such as bacteria and fungithe decomposers. In
this process, nutrients are returned to the soil and then used again by plants.
Most organisms eat several kinds of food and therefore belong to more than one chain.
Because of this, scientists refer to connecting food chains as food webs, networks that
transfer energy within an ecosystem.
consumers, decomposers, food chain, food web, producers
- reference books, such as an encyclopedia and books on plants
and animals of the rainforest
- large pieces of poster board or oak tag
- markers and felt-tip pens
- Explain the term food chain to your child/children using the
background information. Tell them that all living organisms in a food chain can be
classified as a producer, a consumer, or a decomposer. Producers consist mainly of plants.
Most consumers are herbivorous, omnivorous, and carnivorous animals. Decomposers, mainly
bacteria and fungi, break down dead plants and animals to make nutrients in the soil.
- Refer to the list of rainforest animals below. An example of
a food chain of the Australian rainforest is: a coral snake is a consumer that eats a tree
frog; the tree frog is a consumer that feeds on a butterfly; the butterfly is a consumer
that feeds on nectar in a flower; the flower is a producer; bacteria and fungi are
decomposersthey make nutrients in the soil to feed the flower.
- Remind your child of the plight of the cassowary. Explain
that a lack of data on its habitat needs and food sources have frustrated conservation and
management efforts. Discuss why it is important for scientists to understand food chains.
- Obtain a copy of the list of rainforest animals. Suggest
that they use library resources to find information about the animals and the foods they
eat. Have them make a flow chart to show the order in which energy is transferred through
several organisms. Tell them to label producers, consumers, and decomposers in their
northern brown bandicoot
giant tree frog
northern tree snake
double banded plover
white footed dunnart
eastern banjo frog
Extend the Experience
A series of interconnecting food chains make up a food web.
Have your child diagram a food web based on their research of plants and animals of the