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Difference Between a Food Chain and a Food Web


Before initiating the difference between a food chain and a food web, let’s first grab its basic knowledge. A food chain is simply a pathway following the energy flow in an environment, including various species. On the other side, a food web is formed of many different food chains, making a complicated energy system at variable trophic levels.

The food chain and food web are directly linked to each other. It’s nearly impossible to have only one food chain in an ecosystem. An organism endures after different food chains are combined to form a large food web. It is a crisscrossed, complex system of survival. There are many differences between a food chain and a food web, so let’s move toward the topic below.

Comparison Table

Basis of ComparisonFood ChainFood Web
DefinitionA system with living organisms grouped at different trophic levels that linearly depend on each other for their survivalA complex representation of an ecosystem, including several food chains
Number of UnitsAn only unitContains different food chains interlinked to one another
Pathwaysliner pathwayComplicated pathways
Number of Trophic LevelsExtends from 4-6 trophic levelsNo confined figure of trophic levels
Effect of a Trophic LevelAlterations in a trophic level can disturb the whole food chainNo influence on a food web due to changes in a trophic level

How Would You Explain a Food Chain?

You will see the fluctuation in energy from simple producers to big consumers in a food chain. We will demonstrate it with an easy example. Every plant utilizes the photosynthesis process to make its strength. Now different worms eat these plants having nutrients.

Then comes the birds who consume these little worms. In short, this was a simple food chain, but it can be way longer too. No matter what, a food chain always obeys a straight path, beginning with producers and ending with consumers.


An ecosystem, unlike a biome, is composed of different types of food chains. It varies with the change in producers and consumers. For instance, a pond environment will have a separate food chain from the one in the forests.

How Would You Explain a Food Web?

All food chains that start from producers and reach a top predator combine to form a food web. Several animal species and other living organisms connect in a food web. For example, we know that a mouse can be eaten by many predators. Hence, it forms numerous food chains at a time.


Let us briefly discuss a pathway! Different organisms like squirrels, goats, etc., eat plants (the producers). All of these are primary consumers. Now, these consumers are hunted by secondary consumers in an ecosystem, such as golden eagles and foxes. Not only this but these squirrels can also be attacked by snakes, which are later on eaten by the secondary consumers (foxes).

Find Out the Differences Between a Food Chain and a Food Web

Although interlinking with each other, both of these systems have distinctive features in them.



Food Chain

It is the simplest way of maintaining the energy of an ecosystem, having only a single chain.

Food Web

A food web is interconnected to many different food chains to remain in an ecosystem.


Food Chain

A food chain is uncertain as it is confined to one producer and one consumer only.

Food Web

A food web maintains its stability because of the involvement of several small food chains.


Food Chain

As it’s a single chain, the organisms from the upper nutritive level depend only on one type of species from the lower level.

Food Web

In a food web, there are different food chains involved. So an organism from an upper nutritive level can depend on many organisms from a lower nutritive level at a time.

Changes in a Trophic Level

Food Chain

A food chain limits to only four to six trophic levels, so any change in such levels might influence the whole system.

Food Web

Unlike the former, there are several trophic levels interconnected in a food web. So, even if a change occurs in any of these species, it wouldn’t affect the entire food web.

Reach a Verdict!

Although being similar in mechanism, there are still many differences between a food chain and a food web that we have observed above. We tried our best to clear your conflicts regarding both terminologies. A food chain is simply a network that flows linearly to gain energy in an ecosystem. On the other hand, the food web is a bit complex, involving many food chains all at once.

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