Glossary
Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet








What is Biodiversity?


Biodiversity and food webs

Biodiversity is referred to as the web of life because many microorganisms, plants and animals interact with each other. The relationship among species is an important part of biodiversity.

A food chain is a sequence of who eats whom. The usual order of a food chain is sunlight, plants, herbivore, omnivore and/or carnivore. In one type of farming food chain, green grass and wildflowers use sunlight to grow in a field maintained by a farmer called a pasture. A Billy (boy) or Granny (girl) goat grazes on these delicious plants in the pasture. A goat or any other plant-eating animal is called an herbivore. Animals that rely on the farmer for food and protection are domesticated. In turn, the goat provides milk, meat and wool for the farmer, his family, and others. Humans are omnivores, as they eat plants and animals. The goat also provides fertilizer. Microorganisms decompose the goats’ poop or excrements, which provides fertilizers for the grass and flowers to grow. This is one example of a simple food chain based only on green plants, goats, microorganisms and humans. Millions of food chains exist around the world. Food Chain

Food chains that are related in an ecosystem form a food web. In forest ecosystems, many types of herbivores eat the trees and other plant life. Carnivores, or meat-eating animals such as tigers, lions, and wolves, prey on herbivores. They usually prey on wild animals. Sometimes, if the habitats or homes of carnivores are destroyed, they may also attack goats, sheep or cows for food. For example, in India, farmers may lose their goats to tigers; in Eastern Africa, cows may provide lunch for lions and in Western Canada, wolves sometimes attack the domesticated sheep. Carnivores are an important part of biodiversity because they regulate herbivore populations so that they do not eat their favorite plant species to extinction.