Skip to main content

Dead stuff: The secret ingredient in our food chain - John C. Moore

  • 702,057 Views
  • 59,830 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

When you picture the lowest levels of the food chain, you might imagine herbivores happily munching on lush, living green plants. But this idyllic image leaves out a huge (and slightly less appetizing) source of nourishment: dead stuff. John C. Moore details the "brown food chain," explaining how such unlikely delicacies as pond scum and animal poop contribute enormous amounts of energy to our ecosystems.

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John Moore, Eric Berlow, Jennifer Krumins
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio, Celeste Lai
  • Narrator George Zaidan
Additional Resources for you to Explore
There's a process that makes it possible for any of us to eat food. Without it, we'd all just be dead things. That process is known as photosynthesis. To learn more about it, click here.Sugar is necessary for life. Some things we eat just turn into sugar, and sometimes that's a good thing. What does that mean for our bodies? What does that mean for our brains?Some organisms depend on dead things for survival. Speaking of food webs, what happens to the food chain when one species is removed? Check out this lesson to ponder that question a little further.Lots of dirty things happen on the ground. But what happens to all that dead, organic material that falls to the forest floor? What about that dead, organic material we put into our trash bins? Have you ever heard of vermicomposting?We all have food preferences. Sometimes, our food preferences can alter what happening inside our guts. Each of us has a unique signature of microbes. Don't believe me? Check this out.Seasons come and go. In the winter, trees shed their leaves and flowers lose their petals -- those dead parts of plants fall to the forest floor. But what else happens during the seasons?Some things seems to live forever. When most of us are dead and gone, there will be things that will live on for hundreds and maybe even thousands more years. Really? Yes, it's true!Just in case you've ever wondered, Nature Has A Formula That Tells Us When It's Time To Die.
Avatar for Rob Römer
Rob Römer • Drachten, Netherlands • COMPLETED LESSON
In this lesson there is no mentioning of food-efficiency. Why is it better for mankind to skip one or two steps in the food-chain?
03/23/2014 • 
 2 Responses
 / 2 Updates
Avatar for jiovanni cervantes
idk
05/23/2018 • 
 0 Responses
 / 0 Updates
Avatar for Veronica Alegria
idk
05/24/2018 • 
 0 Responses
 / 0 Updates
Avatar for Hoonam Mahinroosta
Is obama is real?
11/12/2019 • 
 1 Response
 / 1 Updates
Avatar for Russell Holden
Beyond providing a medium for plant growth and a stockpile of water and gases for green plants, this video describes another important role for soil. In a few sentences how would you describe this important role?
01/24/2021 • 
 0 Responses
 / 0 Updates
Avatar for Ashmita Adhikari _ Student - ApexES
02/22/2021 • 
 2 Responses
 / 2 Updates
Avatar for kyan fredericks
the boars in the forest eat detritus, people eat the boars.
10/23/2022 • 
 0 Responses
 / 0 Updates

Customize this lesson

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John Moore, Eric Berlow, Jennifer Krumins
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio, Celeste Lai
  • Narrator George Zaidan