Tropical Rainforest Food Chain

What is a tropical rainforest food chain?

Tropical rainforests are the species-richest biomes in the world and very complex ecosystems.

There are therefore hundreds, maybe thousands of different food chains that together form a huge food web. Here are a few examples on food chains in tropical rainforests of Australia.

Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus Niloticus, Eating a Grant Gazelle, Masai Mara, Kenya, East Africa
Crocodile. Poster by Click on thumbnail to buy.

Levels in a Tropical Rainforest Food Chain
The simplest way to think about it is that there are four levels in the tropical rainforest food chain (there are actually often more):

1. Plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, plankton, insects, larvae, spiders

2. Plant, insect and plankton eaters: frogs, fish, bandicoots, possums, echidnas, most birds, wallabies and kangaroos

3. Small animal eaters: snakes, quolls, dunnarts, platypus, kookaburras, owls, birds of prey

4. Larger animal eaters: pythons, crocodiles, dingoes, feral cats, feral dogs This is actually more complicated because most of animals eat different things, like platypus eats small fish but also plankton, so in a different food chain it could be on a different level. But let's keep the things simple so far.

A Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo in New Guinea's Foja Mountains
Tree kangaroo. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

What Eats What in a Tropical Rainforest in Australia?
Plants don't need to eat. They get their energy from photosynthesis. Animals cannot do that trick and they have to eat.

Frogs eat mostly insects, but some larger frogs also eat small fish, reptiles, and other frogs. Small fish eat plankton. Bandicoots eat insects, larvae, spiders, worms, fruit, plant roots and grass seeds.

Possums eat flowers, fruits and leaves of trees. Echidnas eat ants and termites. Most birds eat either small insects or nectar from flowers.

Most snakes eat small prey, like frogs, small reptiles, small mammals and bird eggs. Quolls are carnivorous marsupials and they eat insects, birds and small mammals.

Crimson Rosellas, O'Reilly's Rainforest, Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia
Parrot. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Tropical Rainforest Food Chain in Australia ctd..

Dunnarts eat insects and small reptiles.

Platypus eats mostly insects and plankton, but also frogs and small fish.

Kookaburras differ from most other birds because they eat large insects and small animals such as frogs, snakes, and even small mammals.

Owls are nocturnal predators and they eat nocturnal animals, which mostly are small mammals.

Raptors are diurnal birds of prey like eagles, hawks and kites. They eat diurnal animals like reptiles, other birds and small mammals that are around during the day time.

Pythons are large snakes and they eat larger prey than most other snakes, like wallabies and other medium sized mammals.

Crocodiles are top predators and they eat large prey including kangaroos, cattle and humans.

Dingoes are the largest land predators in Australia, and they eat anything from fish to birds, mammals and reptiles.

Feral cats and feral dogs are descendants of domestic cats and dogs who have gone back to the wild. They eat birds, reptiles and small mammals.

Rainforest Fruit, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia
Rainforest fruit. Poster by Click on thumbnail to buy.

A Few Examples on Tropical Rainforest Food Chain

Here are a few examples on food chains in Australian tropical rainforests:

Birds eat nectar from flowers, a quoll can eat a bird, an owl can eat a quoll.

Bats eat fruits from trees, a kookaburra can eat a small bat, an eagle can eat a kookaburra.

Possums eat leaves of trees, a python can eat a possum.

Kangaroos and wallabies eat plants, a crocodile will eat a kangaroo or wallaby if they go close to waters edge.

Fish eats plankton, platypus eats small fish, a large bird of prey or a crocodile will take a platypus if they can.

Frogs eat insects, snakes eat frogs, dunnart can eat small snakes, feral dogs can eat dunnarts.

Bandicoots eat spiders and insect larvae, feral cats can eat bandicoots.

Rainforest in Cape Tribulation National Park, Queensland, Australia
Tropical rainforest. Poster by Click on thumbnail to buy.

All these food chains together make a tropical rainforest food web.


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