10 Difference between Food Chain and Food Web(With Table)

The ecosystem comprises abiotic and biotic factors. It creates a situation where living organisms depend on non-living things and other living things.

The different trophic levels in the ecosystem enhance the survival of living things. Both food chains and the food web play a crucial role in the ecosystem feeding network.

So, what is the main difference between food chain and food web? The former is a linear flow of energy and nutrients from one trophic level to another. The latter is a combination of numerous food chains and other feeding relationships between organisms. 

This article provides a comprehensive insight into the difference between the food web and the food chain. Take the time to read through it and learn the relationship between the two feeding levels.

You May Also Enjoy: Difference between Habitat and Niche 

Comparison Table (Food Chain Vs Food Web)

Basic Terms Food ChainFood Web
MeaningRefers to a linear flow of energy from a lower trophic level to a higher trophic levelRefers to numerous interconnection of food chains which show energy flow in an ecosystem
Number of chainsHas one linear chainComprise of numerous chains interconnected together
Energy FlowLinear pathway of energy flowNumerous number of interconnected pathways through which energy flow
Number of Trophic LevelsConsist of 4-6 trophic levelsNumerous trophic levels
Feeds UponIt occurs when a member of higher trophic level feeds on a member of lower trophic level in a single straight chain Member of higher trophic level feeds on several types of organisms in its lower trophic level.
DisturbanceSingle trophic level affects the whole food chainThe single trophic level does not affect the whole food web
StabilityIt increases the instability of an ecosystemIt increases the stability of an ecosystem.
Adaptability and Competitiveness of OrganismsDoes not improve the adaptability and competitiveness of organismsTend to improve the adaptability and competitiveness of organisms.
Main ComponentsStart from primary producer and end at the top producerStart from primary producers, consumers, and an end to predators at the top trophic level
TypesGrazing food chain and detritus food chain.No type

What is the Food Chain?

The food chain refers to a linear sequence that shows the flow of energy from one organism to the other. This tends to happen in a community that has producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Energy is not created or destroyed. The research shows that it flows from one level to another through various organisms.

In a terrestrial ecosystem, the main source of energy is the sun which is used by plants to produce their own food. The plants are later eaten by animals as the source of food.

Here are examples of a food chain in the terrestrial ecosystem:

  1. Grass (Producer) —–Goat (Primary Consumer) —– Man (Secondary consumer)
  2. Sun—–>Grass—–>Grasshopper—–>Mouse—–>Snake—–>Hawk

What Is the Food Web?

Food Web describes all food chains in a given ecosystem. It typically shows the interconnection of the living organisms in the ecosystem.

The Foodweb is created to show the interactions and relationships of different species within an ecosystem. The sun is the main source of energy that is used by plants to produce their own food through photosynthesis.

You May Also Like: Difference between Peninsula and Island

Differences between Food Chain and Food Web

  1. Food chain refers to the linear pathway which shows the energy flow from lower trophic to higher trophic level whereas food web shows interconnection and interrelationship of several food chains
  2. Food chains show a single linear pathway of energy flow whereas the food web shows a number of interconnected pathways through which the energy flows within an ecosystem.
  3. A food chain is a single unit whereas a food web is a collection of several interconnected food chains.
  4. The number of trophic levels in the food chain is 4-5 whereas that of the food web are quite numerous
  5. Food chain help to increase instability in an ecosystem whereas the food web increases stability in the ecosystem
  6. A single trophic level affects the whole food chain whereas in the food web it does not cause disturbance
  7. The Food web improves the adaptability and competitiveness of organisms unlike the food chain
  8. The types of food chains are grazing food chain and detritus food chain while the food web has no types

Similarities between Food Chain and Food Web

  1. Both depict energy flow and nutrients flow
  2. Both have lines that connect various species in the ecosystem.
  3. Both start from the primary producer
  4. Both shows interaction and feeding relationship
  5. Both explain population patterns in an ecosystem

You May Also Enjoy: Difference between Animals and Birds

Summary

The core difference between the food chain and the food web is that the food chain shows a single energy flow while the food web shows a number of interconnected pathways through which the energy flows within an ecosystem.

More Sources and References

  • https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/food-web-concept-and-applications-84077181/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_web
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_chain
  • https://www.britannica.com/science/food-chain
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/food-chain/

 

Leave a Comment