The food web in the deciduous forest consists of several tropic (food) levels that are occupied by organisms that feed at that level and also provide food for the organisms in other levels. The food web is intricately connected and will collapse if any of the trophic levels are significantly damaged or removed.
Plants and trees make up the producer level of the deciduous forest food web. They use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and the reaction gives off oxygen as a byproduct. To put it another way, plants make biomass and stored energy in the food web. The consumer organisms in the next level above such as insects, deer and rodents, eat the producers. At this level, there is also symbiosis that occurs in the forest, like bees collecting nectar as they pollenate plants.
Consumers are unable to make their own food like plants do, so they must eat other organisms. There are primary, secondary and tertiary consumers in the deciduous forest. The primary consumers are the large herbivores like deer as well as insects, rabbits and rodents. These creatures eat mostly plants, seeds, berries and grasses. Secondary consumers are the carnivorous animals that eat only herbivores. These consumers include smaller predators like foxes, but ants, fish, spiders, snakes and rats are secondary consumers, too.
Higher up in the forest food web are tertiary consumers, the carnivores and omnivores that eat the animals on the secondary consumer level. An example of these animals would be owls. Above the tertiary consumers are the apex predators. These animals eat carnivores and omnivores but have no natural predators. Examples in the deciduous forest food web are bears, hawks and large snakes like the anaconda.
Decomposers like earthworms, bacteria, fungi and insects take care of the dead plants and animals in the deciduous forest. They break them down into smaller and smaller parts which ultimately creates new soil. The food web continues as plants in the producer level feed on the nutrients.
- Beacom, B. (Updated April 25, 2017). Food chains in the deciduous forest. Retrieved from https://sciencing.com/food-chains-deciduous-forest-7449795.html
- Deciduous Forest. (n.d.). In Encyclopedia.com Online. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/deciduous-forest#H