• Question: How do ecologists draw up food webs for different ecosystems? Do they just watch animals for hours on end and see what they eat, or is there another, perhaps easier, way?

    Asked by elle letters on 30 Jun 2020.
    • Photo: Alfonsina Arriaga Jimenez

      Alfonsina Arriaga Jimenez answered on 30 Jun 2020:

      This is a very good question! There are several ways, indeed first we have to watch what is going in on the field, we spend hours outdoors watching the animals. We also use camera traps to take pictures of animals approaching a plant to eat for example. Also, we can use colour powders in flowers, and they catch bats, for example, to see if their mouth has colours on it. Or, we can make some animals vomit to find out what they eat just before. There are a lot of techniques so we usually use a mix of those depending on the animal.

    • Photo: Jozsef Vuts

      Jozsef Vuts answered on 2 Jul 2020:

      Just to add to Alfonsina`s answer, you can also get out the DNA from the food inside the stomach of insects, and use it to tell what they ate.