<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Natural sciences

Grade 8

Environment and interactions

Module 35

Ecological relationships

Our study of the roles of organisms in ecosystems has shown that organisms do not exist in isolation. There are mutual relationships amongst all of them. All are dependent on each other to a lesser or greater degree.

Ecological relationships develop for many different reasons.


To identify the reasons for the relationships between organisms in nature

[lo 2.4]

See whether you are able to write down a few reasons for the development of relationships between organisms in nature.

  • Discuss your reasons with each other and decide which reason is the most important one:

Assessment of your ability to identify relationships

Were you able to list reasons?

[LO 2.4]


To be able to explain and identify food relationships, and to be able to illustrate them using examples

[lo 2.1; lo 2.2; lo 2.3; lo 2.4]

Green plants photosynthesise and produce food in the form of starch.

Animals are not capable of producing their own food and therefore need to make use of plants or other animals that have eaten plants.

However, there are different kinds of consumers. In a previous module on biodiversity it was mentioned that herbivores, carnivores and omnivores together comprise the consumers.

Decomposers are also an important part of the chain.

All the above-mentioned are links in a typical FOOD CHAIN .

A food chain originates when organisms feed off each other, and nutrients, as well as energy from the sun, flow from one organism to the next.

Test your knowledge of food relationships

1. Provide the scientific word for:

1.1 plant-eaters:

1.2 meat-eaters:

1.3 eaters of both plants and meat:

2. Provide the definition of:

2.1 a consumer:

2.2 a producer:

2.3 a food chain:

3. Briefly explain the importance of the following:

3.1 a scavenger:

3.2 decomposers:

4. Name at least TWO important decomposers:


Were you able to answer the questions correctly?

[LO 2.1]

Compile a food chain

  • Compile a simple food chain by pasting sketches or pictures in the proper order.
  • In nature food chains do not exist in isolation, in other words they are interlinked. Such a network of food chains is called a FOOD WEB .
  • Food chains are often represented as FOOD PYRAMIDS. A food pyramid indicates the amount of biomass or energy on each level in the food chain.[LO 2.2]

Assessment of your understanding of the FOOD CHAIN

Were you able to represent both?

[LO 2.3]

Read the following and use the information to compile as many food chains as possible.

It is a hot day in the Kalahari. A light breeze is blowing dead matter in the form of fine twigs and organic material over the top of a sand dune. Insects such as ants and beetles scuttle about in an attempt to pick up some of these bits and pieces. In a little funnel in the sand an ant-lion lies in wait for its prey. As it starts to cool down at nightfall, tiny field-mice and other mammals appear.

They nibble at the last few grass seeds and blades of grass on which the little moisture there is in the air will condense again to form droplets of water in the early hours of the morning. On the crown of the dune a black tapping-beetle scurries along. It comes to a standstill with its tail in the air so that some of the moisture from the soil can condense on its hard little body and run down into its thirsty mouth.

In the heat of the day the gecko makes small two-steps to avoid being scorched by the burning sand. A grasshopper on a tuft of grass catches its attention. Scorpions scuttle about with their tails held high, in search of spiders and beetle larvae. Spiders lie in wait for ants and termites and a horned adder chases after a field-mouse. All of this takes place amid the great silence of the sweltering day and the cold night when the jackal’s cries can be heard.

Assessment of the interpretation of the PASSAGE:

Were you able to identify the basic FOOD CHAINS from the passage?

[LO 2.4]


LO 2: Constructing Science Knowledge:

The learner will know and be able to interpret and apply scientific, technological and environmental knowledge.

This is evident when the learner:

  • recalls meaningful information;
  • categorises information;
  • interprets information;

2.4 applies knowledge.


Activity: Reasons for ecological relationships

Reasons: food — e.g. birds that pollinate flowers, animals that serve as prey for other animals, herbivores that eat grass, protection — e.g. gnus, zebras and impalas that graze together (protections against predators), homes — e.g. birds that nest in a tree, decomposition — e.g. fungi and bacteria that depend on dead plants and animals for their food, but in turn are useful to other plants and animals because their action maintains the fertility of the soil.

The most important reason: a class decision

Activity: Explaining, identifying and illustrating food-based relationships / the food chain

Tests your knowledge:

1. 1.1 – herbivores 1.2 – carnivores 1.3 – omnivores


2.1 consumer: not able to produce own food, must eat / live off plants or something else that eats / lives off plants.

2.2 producer: produces its own food by utilising the sun, carbon dioxide and water, e.g. green plants.

2.3 Energy derived from the sun, by means of a range of organisms, usually ranging from a herbivore first, then through a range of consumers to decomposers. Some energy is lost at each link.


3.1 Carrion eaters remove visible animal remains while decomposers see to fine breaking down to mineral level so that the residue can return to the soil.

3.2 Decomposers break down organic material (plant and animal remains) to basic nutrients (nutrients / building materials) that are made available to plants from the soil.

4. Fungi, bacteria (or examples of fungi and bacteria)

The Food chain

  • Accept the learner's answer if the following are correct: producer, 1 st consumer, 2 nd consumer and 3 rd consumer, decomposer.


Food chains related to a text for reading

  • E.g. twigs / organic material - ants - antlion - gecko - snake
  • Grass - locust - gecko - snake
  • Twigs / organic material - field mouse - snake

Questions & Answers

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store Now

Source:  OpenStax, Natural sciences grade 8. OpenStax CNX. Sep 12, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11050/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Natural sciences grade 8' conversation and receive update notifications?