<< 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

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

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?