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Click here for a tutorial and quiz about food chains, food webs, and trophic levels.

One of my first songs. Those of you who are old enough will recognize the theme song from The Beverley Hillbillies, also known as The Ballad of Jed Clampett.

Scroll down to see the lyrics, or click here to view a downloadable pdf on a separate page.

Food Chains

Sung to the tune of The Ballad of Jed Clampett (also known as The Beverly Hillbillies Song)

Oh, a nuclear reaction happens deep inside the sun,
When hydrogen atoms are fused into helium
And then the heat and light is radiated into space,
In 90 million miles it shines upon the Earth’s face.

For every hundred calories that shine out from the sun,
The calories that green plants trap will number only one,
But every single calorie in oceans, hills, and plains,
Will serve as a foundation for a living food chain.

At the bottom of a food chain are producers like green plants
Whose cells make food from sunlight making use of chloroplasts,
It happens in the pines and flowers on your windowsill,
‘Cause every single green plant’s got a little chlorophyll.

Well the next step in a food chain is a primary consumer,
An herbivoric cow or vegetarian baby boomer,
A primary consumer spends its mealtimes eating plants,
It might be a buffalo or might be an ant.

Each level in a food chain yields only ten percent
Of the former level’s energy you might ask where it went
There are bones and leaves you can’t digest that really make a dent
And don’t ignore the weighty cost of metabolic rent.

So if your plants are yielding ’bout a hundred calories,
Your yield will only be ten in the birdies and the bees.
And seven hundred calories in algae in the sea
In primary consumers it will yield you seventy.

Some other ways of getting food are really out of sight.
You could be a predator or be a parasite,
A predator eats meat a parasite eats your insides,
And if you’re a decomposer you will eat me when I die!

And if you know this about food chains you can really take the cake,
When energy goes through it doesn’t last, it dissipates,
But nutrients in food chains meet a very different fate,
They recycle and they circulate forever, ain’t that great?

Just remember there’s no beings in this world that live alone
Populations form communities where all do make their homes
Though your niche may be determining the role that you are playing.
Every creature live or dead is in a food chain.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Barbara Jaeckli

    Dear Glenn Wolkenfeld,
    My students love the song! Ever since I discovered it 4 years ago on youtube it has been a hit in bilingual biology classes in Wetzikon, Switzerland. What a fun way to learn about food chains.
    The only problem for them is that it’s a bit too fast and they can’t keep up with the words.
    Thanks, Barbara

  2. Sid

    I love this song! Its stuck in my head and helped me a lot on my test.

    1. Mr. W

      Thanks, Sid! Check out the interactive learning activities I’ve created about food chains, food webs, and trophic levels: let me know what you think!
      Mr. W

  3. Adrian

    I really love this song, this will help me in my mocks and gcses. Thank you Mr. W

Comments are closed.