Learn about how energy is passed from one organism to another in this food chain lesson. Plus, download a FREE pond food chain coloring book for your younger learners.
All living things, no matter how big or small or where they live, need energy to survive. Energy is defined as the ability to do work. When it comes to energy being used in living things, that work could be to run, to play, to think, or to grow. These are all considered work.
So, if it is so important, how do organisms get energy?
It depends on what type of organism you are talking about.
How Do Living Things Get Energy?
Living things obtain energy from their environment. Some create their own energy from elements within their surroundings (producers), while others must get their energy from other living things (consumers and decomposers). Let’s look at each of these types of organisms in a little more detail.
Plants are considered producers simply because they can produce their own energy through a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis allows the plant to take solar energy from the sun, water and nutrients from the soil, and transform it into energy the plant can use to grow.
Animals are consumers. They get their energy from the food they eat. Some animals eat only plants. They are called primary consumers, or herbivores. Other animals eat only other animals. They are called secondary consumers, or carnivores. Still other animals, like humans, eat plants and animals. They are called omnivores.
Some tiny organisms like worms, bacteria, and fungi eat dead plants and animals. They are called decomposers. These organisms are important because they clean up dead matter and let the nutrients from the dead plants and animals to be put back into the soil to be used by plants. They are nature’s recyclers.
Related post: Life Under A Log
What Is A Food Chain?
So, we’ve learned how organisms get energy. They either produce it themselves or obtain it from eating other organisms. This passing of energy from one living thing to another is called a food chain. Every organism on Earth is part of a food chain of some sort. Even people!
Each ecosystem has it’s own food chains based upon the plants and animals that live there. From oceans to grasslands to desserts, food chains are vital to the health of those ecosystems and the environment.
We like to study the pond ecosystem. There are several nearby and we always seem to see something new each time we visit. Ponds and the areas around them are teeming with life of all kinds. Right in that one ecosystem, there are many food chains we could study. Let’s learn about one of them.
Pond Food Chain
It is that time of year when the mosquitoes are laying their eggs in any still body of water they can find. Soon, we will see millions of tiny mosquito larvae swimming in the shallow water around the pond’s edge. These larvae feed on the microscopic algae that grows in the pond. Algae is a type of plant that uses photosynthesis to create its own energy using solar energy from the sun and water and nutrients from the pond.
Those little mosquito larvae are a great food supply for the fish that live in the pond. In turn, those fish are a popular food for the raccoons that hunt at the water’s edge. When that raccoon eventually dies, the decomposers will use its body for energy and return nutrients back into the soil or water for plants to use in the future.
algae —-> larvae —-> raccoon —-> decomposers
You can see from this real life example how each organisms passes its energy to another and how the decomposers complete the cycle that can start over again when a plant uses those nutrients the decomposers put back into the soil.
Pond Food Chain Coloring Book
Now that you’ve learned about food chains and how one might look in a pond ecosystem, let’s have some fun with this Pond Food Chain Coloring book! It’s free for our email subscribers, just fill in the form below and I’ll send you the download link.
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