Food Webs pp 99-130 | Cite as

The length of food chains

  • Stuart L. Pimm
Part of the Population and Community Biology book series (PCB)


The energy which plants capture from the sun during photosynthesis may end up in the tissues of a hawk via a bird the hawk has eaten, the insects eaten by the bird, and the plant on which the insects fed. The plant-insect-bird-hawk system is called a food chain, and each stage a trophic level. More generally, the trophic levels are called producers (plants), herbivores or primary consumers (the insects), carnivores or secondary consumers (the bird) and top-carnivores or tertiary consumers (the hawk).


Trophic Level Food Chain Return Time Lower Trophic Level Insectivorous Bird 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Stuart L. Pimm 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart L. Pimm
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Ecology and Department of ZoologyUniversity of TennesseeUSA

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