Soil Food Web

Soil biota feed on many different trophic (or feeding) levels. The energy base of the food chain in soil is organic matter such as dead leaves, twigs and logs, dead animals, animal excreta and degraded organic matter in soil. Sometimes it is called the “detrital” food chain as the primary food source is organic detritus. Food chains are formed as one organism feeds on another.
• Biota feeding directly on organic matter are called decomposers.
• Biota feeding on microbes are called microbivores.
• Biota preying on decomposers are predators.
• Sometimes predators feed on other predators.
• And if predators die, decomposers, in turn, feed on them.
• And so the food chains are inter-connected into food webs.

Food chains and food webs are depicted with arrows going from the organism that is eaten, to the organism that eats it. Eaten —> Eater.

A simple food chain in soil would be:


Simple soil food chain.


Simple food chains can be linked together into complex soil food webs. See Pasture Soil Food Webs