Grassland Food Chain: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kerry Momnie

Kerry has taught for eleven years in grades 4-8 and is currently a 5th grade classroom teacher. Kerry also has a master's degree and is a certified reading specialist.

Have you ever wondered what a plant, an elephant and a termite have in common? You might be surprised to find out that they actually depend on one another for survival! In this lesson you will learn about grasslands and the food chains in this ecosystem.

The Food Chain in Action

Picture this: a cheetah is silently creeping through the tall grass toward an unsuspecting zebra standing in the middle of a field. The zebra is happily munching on grass, unaware that he will soon become lunch for his predator. Overhead, a vulture is circling the scene, knowing that when this is over he too will have something to eat…

I know, this all sounds like a scene straight from Animal Planet! But everything you just pictured is actually part of daily life in the grasslands. Animals depend on one another for survival as they are all an important part of the food chain.

A food chain describes the flow of energy from one living thing to another in an ecosystem. In other words, living things feed on other living things in order to survive. Food chains take place all over the planet, including in grasslands.

What are Grasslands?

Grasslands are a common type of ecosystem that can be found on every continent, except for Antarctica. They are wide open and flat areas of land covered in - you guessed it - grass, which is the main type of vegetation that grows there. Grasslands typically do not get enough rain to support the growth of forests, but they are also not dry enough to be deserts. In fact, grasslands can usually be found between forests and deserts.

Grasslands
Grasslands

Food Chain in Grasslands

Since grasslands exist on nearly every continent, the plants and animals in them differ depending on where they are located. One thing that they do have in common, though, is that every grassland has a distinct food chain. Today, let's focus on the food chain in the African grasslands, also known as savannas.

Producers

Living things that make their own food are called producers. These include different types of plants, trees, grasses and shrubs. In the grasslands, grass is the producer that is most plentiful. Food chains always begin with the sun, because that is the energy source that plants use to make their own food. This makes the sun the most important component of a food chain!

Consumers

Animals that eat other living things for survival are known as consumers. However, there are different types of consumers based on what they eat. Primary consumers are animals that feed on producers, or plants. In the African grasslands some well-known primary consumers include elephants and zebras.

On the other hand, secondary consumers are animals that eat other animals for survival. These types of consumers usually feed on the primary consumers and include cheetahs and hyenas. If you remember the opening scene in this lesson, the cheetah was stalking the zebra. This is an example of a secondary consumer looking for his next meal!

Zebras in the African Grasslands
Zebras

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