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Lake Taupō's Web of Life

The Taupō Catchment
A Precious Resource

In any freshwater ecosystem, living things depend upon each other for survival.

Producers - plants

Producers are plants that get their energy from the sun.

Consumers - animals

Consumers are animals that get their energy from eating plants and animals.

There are three types of consumers:

  1. Herbivores – plant eaters that get all their energy from plants.
  2. Carnivores - meat eaters that get all their energy from eating other animals
  3. Omnivores – some animals, such as humans, eat both plants and animals


Fungi and bacteria break down organic matter, such as leaves, and this returns Nutrients to the ground.

Food chains

A simple food chain can show the flow of energy from one group of living things to the next. Image: LEARNZ.

A simple food chain does not often happen by itself. How living things feed is best shown as a food web.

Food webs

Food webs are made up of more than one food chain. An example of a food web in Lake Taupō is shown below:

Food webs are very important for survival. If one food source disappears then all other living things are affected because an animal must then find a new source of food. Image: LEARNZ.

Audio Māori keywords: 

Consequences: What if you removed one or two parts to this Lake Taupō food web? What do you think would happen? Why?

Phytoplankton are at the base of the food web. This view is about one drop of water. Image: Dick Willapalens.

Many insects are herbivores. They are an important part of the food web. Image: LEARNZ.

Kōura are often eaten by trout. Image: LEARNZ.

Smelt play a big part in the Lake Taupō food web. Image: LEARNZ.

A healthy food web equals healthy trout. Image: LEARNZ.

In the Lake Taupō food web, humans are the top predator. Image: LEARNZ.

The Taupō Catchment
A Precious Resource