The interdependency of relationships and energy flow in ecosystems are crucial biological concepts that students frequently find hard to understand. They are one of the foundations to the survival of living things and the complex processes that balance life on Earth. The ability to interpret food chains and food webs is fundamental in the communication and understanding of relationships between organisms in the domain of biology. I examine the ways elementary-level students read a simple food web diagram and the effect this has on their understanding of the encapsulated biology concepts. Diagram reading approaches are described along with analysis of how meaning making is influenced by students' preconceived ideas. The results indicate the students experienced a range of difficulties in reading the food web diagram. I conclude that food web instruction must address prior knowledge, challenge preconceptions, and involve deep diagram processing. The research provides insights into the difficulties high school students have in comprehending food webs and understanding relationships in ecosystems.