food chain Word Origin See more synonyms for food chain on Thesaurus.com noun
- Ecology. a series of organisms interrelated in their feeding habits, the smallest being fed upon by a larger one, which in turn feeds a still larger one, etc.
- the chain from a food source to the ultimate consumer.
- a hierarchy ranked by status, importance, influence, etc.: people who are high up on the political and media food chain.
Origin of food chain First recorded in 1925–30 British Dictionary definitions for food chain food chain noun
- ecology a sequence of organisms in an ecosystem in which each species is the food of the next member of the chain
- informal the hierarchy in an organization or society
food chain in Science food chain [fōōd]
- The sequence of the transfer of food energy from one organism to another in an ecological community. A food chain begins with a producer, usually a green plant or alga that creates its own food through photosynthesis. In the typical predatory food chain, producers are eaten by primary consumers (herbivores) which are eaten by secondary consumers (carnivores), some of which may in turn be eaten by tertiary consumers (the top carnivore in the chain).♦ Many species of animals in an ecological community feed on both plants and animals and thus play multiple roles in the chain. Parasites feed on living tissues, generally without killing their hosts, and may themselves be hosts to smaller parasites. In addition, organisms that die without being eaten are consumed by detritivores, some of which serve as prey for other consumers. The complex system of interrelated food chains in an environment is known as a food web. See more at trophic level.
food chain in Culture food chain
The series of steps by which energy is obtained, used, and transformed by living things. For example: sunlight helps grain to grow, the grain feeds cattle, and humans eat the cattle.
Note Harmful chemicals can become concentrated as they move up the food chain.