Do you know the natural invisible chain that keeps the living organisms tied to each other? It is the Food Chain. In ecology, the food chain is the sequence of transfer of matter and energy in the form of food from an organism to another organism. A food web is several food chains connected together. Plants, which convert solar energy to food by photosynthesis are the primary food source. In a predator chain, a plant-eating animal is eaten by a flesh-eating animal. In a parasite chain, a smaller organism consumes part of a larger host and may itself be parasitized by even smaller organisms. In a saprophytic chain, microorganisms live on dead organic matter. The food chain depends on a delicate balance of nature. When one organism is removed that delicate balance can be affected in several ways. Let us see what happens when the food chain is affected.
Extinctions and Disruptions
If one species in the food web ceases to exist, one or more members in the rest of the chain could cease to exist too. When such a species goes extinct, that makes way to more food for a wide variety of species that would interrupt the food web.
Increased Population of Prey
When a predatory species becomes extinct, it removes a balance in the food chain on the population of prey previously consumed by that predator. This can cause the prey population to explode. For example, if there are no predators in a forest, it results in excessive deer numbers that can transform the makeup of plant communities and negatively impact forest regeneration.
Effect on Other Species
Food chain disruptions from the loss of a single species can be ecosystem-wide. It doesn’t matter if the species is large or small it has the same effect. in Britain, because of fewer sheep grazing in pastures, the population of red ant got decreased very much since the sheep kept the grass short which was the preferable environment for the growth of ants. This did not end here. The paucity of red ants led to the extinction of a large butterfly species that eats red-ant eggs as part of its life cycle.
Extinction of animal or bird species in the food chain is altering the physical environment as well. When the brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to Guam, it caused the local extinction of most of the island’s native bird and lizard species. It also caused cascading ecological effects by removing native pollinators, causing the subsequent decline of native plant species. The extinction of the birds had adversely impacted tree pollination, seed germination and seed dispersal. Without birds to spread seeds, there may only be a few clumps of mono-species trees in Guam’s future that changed the forest habitat.