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A food chain is an idea developed by a scientist named Charles Elton in 1927 He described the way plants get energy from sunlight plant-eating animals get their energy from eating plants and meat-eating animals get their energy from eating other animals The idea of a chain means that all these animals are linked together so anything that affects one link in the chain affects everything in the chain The key concept that we need to learn from food chains food webs and food pyramids is the transfer of energy For all life on earth there is only one available source of energy the sun Furthermore only plants can change this energy into a form that can be used by animals All plants rely either directly or indirectly on plants for their energy Plants feed upon sunlight Only plants have the ability to convert sunlight into food that they and animals can use Feeding levels are also called trophic levels The word trophic is a Greek word for nourishment To determine the trophic level we count the number of energy transfers Green plants are at the first trophic or nourishment level because there has been one transfer of energy from the sun to the plants The first link in the chain the plant is called the producer while all the links above it are called consumers For example look at a simple chain in which grass uses sunlight to produce sugars and proteins so it can grow Rabbits eat the grass and get energy from it Foxes eat rabbits and get energy from them Nothing eats foxes so they are said to be at the top of that particular food chain If something happens to the grass suppose a farmer plows up some of the grass to plant a field Then the rabbits have less food and some of them will die Then because there are fewer rabbits some of
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