What Is the Prairie Food Web?

prairie-food Credit: Andrew Dernie/Photodisc/Getty Images

The prairie food web shows the feeding connections between animals and plants in a prairie or grassland. The food web consists of autotrophs, or producers, which can make their own food. Heterotrophs are the consumers that feed on plants or animals.

In the North American prairie food web, the producers are the grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and small trees. The bison and the pronghorn antelope are herbivores that feed on the vegetation, and they are called primary consumers. Rattlesnakes are carnivores that eat insects and rodents. Other carnivores seen in the prairie are coyotes, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets. The carnivores are the secondary consumers. Jackrabbits, prairie chickens and grasshoppers are also part of the prairie food web.

A food web is a complex structure that includes all of the food chains in an ecosystem. Prairies, or grasslands, are found in North America, Africa, South America and Asia. Food webs show groups of animals that have the same predators and prey in an ecosystem. Predators are carnivores that feed on other organisms, and prey are the animals that are eaten. Heterotrophs are classified into three groups: namely, herbivores, carnivores, or decomposers, which are organisms that break down plant and animal matter.