What is a Food Web?

Definition: A food web is consumption network where energy and resources are passed from one entity to the other. It is a portrait of the feeding interrelations between different species.

What Does Food Web Mean?

A food web illustrates the behavior of a given biological ecosystem by analyzing the feeding dynamics that take place in it; these interrelations are the predator-prey type since one entity consumes the other to get energy.

What the web would measure is the amount of energy transferred from one specie to the other after the prey has been consumed. The illustration should begin with the sun, since it is the main source of energy for all species. After that, the web will continue to expand itself to show the energy flow throughout the entire ecosystem.

The concept of a food web can also be applied to a business or economic ecosystem, where resources are passing between market participants and the web will show how much of those resources goes where. It is very useful for economists to see the money flow within the economic system to identify weak spots and improvement opportunities.

Example

Let’s say the Central Bank of Argentina is analyzing the automobile industry’s food web. The web will show where resources come from and how they are distributed between the different market participants. The web should start with the raw material producers, in this case, companies that provide things like iron, steel, aluminum and any other material required to manufacture the original auto parts. Then it will move on to the top suppliers of the market, companies that manufacture original parts for automobile manufacturers and it will move from there to the next point after reaching final consumers.

By analyzing the way resources are invested and transferred throughout the market, the Government can design policies to increase productivity and fairness and also they will be able to identify potential areas of improvement where the Government can step in to give these companies incentives to open new markets or increase employment.