Why Plants And Animals Are Interdependent

Interdependence Of Plants And Animals

A forest is home to many types of plants, animals, and microorganisms. The various organisms are interconnected and together form a biotic community or biota.

All animals depend on plants for food, directly or indirectly. For example, a rat eats grains and plants, a snake eats a rat, which is, in turn, eaten by an eagle. This chain that forms in nature is called a food chain. Green plants are called the producers as they can produce their own food. Animals are called consumers as they cannot produce their own food and depend on plants and other animals for food.

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A typical food chain

When animals die, their bodies are broken down (by decomposers like bacteria and fungi) and they become a part of the soil. This makes the soil fertile for the growth of plants. These plants again become food sources for the animals. Thus, the food chain goes on and on. Food chains are simple representations of energy flow in nature. They exist everywhere, be it in the pond or the ocean, the grassland, desert, or the mountain.

Several food chains that exist in nature are interconnected. For example, both a rat and a hen eat grains. Both of them can be eaten by a cat. A cat can be eaten by a bigger animal such as a wolf. However, a wolf can also eat a hen and a rat directly. There also exists a more complex representation of energy flow in nature which is called food web, as it appears like a web that a spider spins. You too are a part of the food web.

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A typical food web
  • Trees in forests provide shelter to animals such as chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas, snakes, chipmunks, birds, and squirrels. Trees absorb the harmful effects of natural elements such as wind, sunlight, and rainfall, thus protecting animals.
  • Several insects and birds become agents that bring about pollination of flowers, thereby assisting in fruit formation. Butterflies, bees, wasps, and hummingbirds are important pollinators.
  • Seeds of several plants depend on animals for dispersal, which is important for the survival of those at far-off places. Animals such as monkeys, chimpanzees, and birds eat fruits along with the seeds. These animals keep moving from one place to another. The seeds of the fruits that they eat come out with the excreta and get scattered to distant places. Thus, animals help in dispersal of seeds.
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