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Life in Freshwater

Carnivores and Food Webs

Primary production was about the various plants that can carry out photosynthesis to fix carbon and energy into the ecosystem. The food that this generates will in turn be consumed by the grazing creatures like mayflies. This second layer of any food web could be described as the secondary production within the ecosystem. It is this group that may be eaten by the carnivores.

The food web below just gives a general idea of the flow of energy between the different levels.

A Carnivore River food web

However, perhaps unlike the general pond food web this is extremely generalised as there are so many variants to the theme depending on the level of riparian vegetation present.

Fast currents will deter most predators unless they can fight against the flow, such as fish. This is why trout will be so important in the energy transfer. There are also a few bird species which can be in this category. The heron is usually at the edge and kingfishers are limited to medium to slow water.

The Dipper is a bird that is associated with clear, clean waters of upland regions. It is an important carnivore in that it will dip into the fast flowing water and consume just about any suitable sized invertebrates that it can find.

The intermediate predators like the large stoneflies or a few dragonfly larvae species will be limited to the benthic region and hunt mainly at night to avoid being seen by fish.


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