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Trophic Levels

On the land the typical Trophic Levels pattern is:

Graphic of Trophic Levels

In the ocean, and on intertidal shores, this Trophic Levels pattern is a little different. There are a few other important sources of food to be taken into consideration.

Firstly, there is Plankton which has animal, both very small and some large, and single-celled plant components. Plankton occurs in absolutely countless numbers and volume. In southern waters, it is the energy engine that drives much of the Marine Food Web.

Then there is detritus, which is the broken down ooze of dead and decaying plant and animal remains, being fed on by bacteria. Many animals are adapted to feeding on detritus, such as the Shore Crabs and many worms. The bacteria which eats the detritus is also another very important source of food. Detritus is left as a thin film on a shore when the tide receeds.

Along with detritus, more bulky debris consisting of birds and fish carcases, torn off algae clumps, and all sorts of rubbish, also left by the tide.


Feeding Relationships

Nutrient Absorbers
Grazers & Browsers
Suspension Feeders
Deposit Feeders
Trophic Levels
Energy Pyramid

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships



Graphic of the Feeding Realtionships on a Rocky Shore in Temperate Australia


Bennett, I. (1987) W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland, Sydney.

Edgar, G. J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Kew.

Quinn, G. P., Wescott, G. C. & Synnot, R. N. (1992) Life on the Rocky Shores of South-eastern Australia: an illustrated field guide. Victorian National Parks Association, Melbourne.

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984) Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.

Shepherd, S. A. & Thomas, I. M. (1982) Marine Invertebrates of Victoria, Pt. 1. South Australian Government Printer, Adelaide.

Underwood, A. J. & Chapman, M. G. (1993) Seashores: a beachcomber's guide. New South Wales University Press, Sydney.


photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000