Saturday, November 14, 2009

What is a food web, anyway?

As you probably noticed, this blog is called "Ithaca's Food Web" -- but what exactly is a food web?*

A food web is a diagram that shows the eating relationships between living things in a specific place. For example, you can imagine arrows linking grass, then the cows that eat the grass, and then the people who eat the cows.

Blah blah blah. Are you bored yet?

But try adding a few more animals, and you can soon see how complicated this diagram will become. Even if you imagine you're on a farm right here in Ithaca, Tompkins County, or New York State: Cows aren't the only things that eat grass. And, obviously, people eat much more than cows. How would lettuce, beets, chickens, pigs, ducks, deer, mice, clover, grasshoppers, bees, fish in a nearby stream, slugs, and other living things fit in the picture?

So, what's the point of thinking about all that? Food connects us to all other living things -- even the creatures we never see or consider. For better or worse, when we change one part of our food web, that change ripples through the entire ecosystem.

The point of this blog, Ithaca's Food Web, is to help us get to know -- and pay attention to -- our own local food web.

*Note: Through the magic of the internet, I know that some people reach this blog because they typed "food web" into a search engine (and I infer that they are students looking for homework answers).

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