RAIN FOREST FOOD WEB: TOP PREDATORS

Bengal Tiger. Photo:Mila Zinkova

The Tiger Sits At The Center Of The Rainforest Food Web. Photo:Mila Zinkova


The Rain Forest’s Food Chain


The relationships among species in an ecosystem have often been described as a “food chain” in which the larger animals eat the smaller. But the food-chain image is a two-dimension one, when in fact the picture is much more complex. Rain forest relationships are better described as a web—a rainforest food web.

In this complex rain forest web of life, the insects of the rainforest floor tend to eat plants, fungi, decaying material and other insects, and in turn be eaten by spiders, among a host of other creatures. But spiders themselves can fall victim to insects in the form of wasps and army ants. And while it’s easy to imagine rain forest birds eating spiders, it is also true that at least one species of spider in the rainforest food web—the Goliath trantula—eats birds. (See a short video on the Goliath here.)

Visit The Top Predators In the Rain Forest Food Web:

THE BIG CATS: TIGERS, LEOPARDS AND JAGUARS
RAIN FOREST ALLIGATORS AND CROCODILES
THE BIG SNAKES OF THE RAIN FOREST
RAIN FOREST EAGLES

Visit The Primates In The Rain Forest Food Web:

MONKEYS, APES AND PROSIMIANS (LEMURS)

Birds are also devoured by rainforest snakes—but many snakes, especially the smaller ones, are eaten by birds as well. Snakes eat some mammals such as rodents, and are in turn eaten by many species of mammals.

Who eats whom often depends on what stage of life each creature is in, with adult animals generally having less to fear and juveniles and babies having much, much more to worry about.

At the very center of the rain forest food web sit the top, or apex, predators. In most rainforests, these central slots are held by the big cats—tigers, leopards and jaguars—the big snakes, the big crocodilians and the largest birds of prey. But even among these apex creatures there is never a truce. The biggest snakes and biggest crocodilians will sometimes kill one another, the eagles need to watch where they land, and all but the biggest of the big cats are vulnerable to an attack by a crocodilian or a huge snake.

The rain forest food web is never peaceful, even at its center.

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