Glossary of Food Web Terms

 

 Term

Definition

 abiotic

Describing a non-living component of an environment containing organisms; also called inorganic

 autotroph

An organism that produces food molecules inorganically by using light by photosynthesis. This organism does not require outside sources of organic food energy for survival. Autotrophs are primary producers in all food webs.

 
biome
A region subjected to and affected by a common set of climatic conditions, like a tropical rain forest or a tundra

 biota

Animal and plant life of a region

 biotic

Describing a living thing

 
carnivore
An organism that consumes living animals or parts of living animals

 commensalism

Relationship between two species in which only one species benefits whereas the other is unaffected

 consumer

An organism that eats other organisms for food. Also called heterotrophs, different kinds of comsumers include carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores

 decomposer

An organism that feeds on dead material or excrement, breaking down complex organic compounds into simple organic or inorganic ones that are then available to enter the food web as nutrients

 dissolved oxygen

Microscopic bubbles of oxygen gas in a solution

 ecosystem

All of the interactions between living and non-living entities within a community

 estuary

River mouth entering the sea where fresh water and salt water mix and where tidal effects are felt. It usually contains abundant life forms.

 food chain

Single path taken as different organisms consume other organisms for energy

 food web

Interaction of all of the food chains in a particular habitat to form a complex feeding system. This is different from a food chain in that an organism may have multiple food sources instead of only one.

 habitat

A localized area within a biome that is usually a home to (an) organism(s), like a freshwater pond or a woodland

 herbivore

An organism that consumes plants or photoplankton for energy; also known as a primary consumer

 heterotroph

Any living organism that obtains its energy from organic substances produced by other organisms

 host

A living organism that is being fed on by another organism (called the parasite)

 inorganic

Matter other than plant or animal; inorganic matter is not alive and may not contain carbon; sometimes called abiotic

 mutualism

Association between two organisms of different species whereby both benefit from the relationship; also called symbiosis

omnivore

An organism that eats both plants and animals

organic 

Relating to or derived from an organism

organism

A living individual plant, animal, fungus, protist, archebacterium, or enbacterium

 parasite

An organism that feeds on or in another organism (called the host)

 pH

Scale from 0-14 used to measure the alkalinity or acidity of a substance; 7 is neutral, below 7 is acid, and above 7 is alkaline

 predator

A consumer organism that feeds on prey

 prey

An organism that is consumed by a predator

 primary consumer

An organism that occupies the second trophic level in a food chain; these organisms are herbivores and feed directly on producers

producer 

Organisms, such as plants or photoplankton, that produce their own food; also called autotrophs

 salinity

Concentration of dissolved salts found in a sample of water; measured as total amount of dissolved salts in parts per thousand

 scavenger

An organism that feeds on dead organisms
trophic level
Position occupied by a species or group of species in a food chain

 turbidity

A measure of the cloudiness of water caused by suspended particles

Return to main page of research model