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Primary consumers: what they are and examples

When we speak of a food chain or food chain, we refer to the transfer of food energy. The chain is made up of a first trophic level, which are the producers, followed by the different types of consumers and the last level ends with the decomposers.

In this interesting AgroCorrn article, information on a single trophic level, that of consumers, will be shown, especially primary consumers will be discussed in detail and will show some examples of trophic chains and their position. Read on and know what primary consumers are and examples of these.

You may also be interested in: Tertiary consumers: what they are and examples
  1. What are primary consumers
  2. Examples of primary consumers
  3. If half of the primary consumers disappeared, what would happen?
  4. Other consuming organisms

What are primary consumers

The set of primary consumers is made up of herbivorous species , that is, heterotrophic animals that feed on organic matter for energy. This organic matter is made by the producers, who are autotrophic organisms, such as photosynthetic plants, photosynthetic bacteria or chemosynthesizing bacteria. The producers within the food chain are the first link or the base and the primary consumer organisms would be the second link in the chain and, in turn, the first link within the group of consumers.

We recommend that to better understand these concepts, also consult these other AgroCorrn articles on the Difference between autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms with examples and Heterotrophic organisms: what they are, characteristics and examples .

Examples of primary consumers

Can you tell which are the primary consumers within a food chain? Here are some examples of food chains with some of them.

  • Some caterpillars feed on plants, and these same caterpillars will serve as food for some smaller bird species. Small birds are preyed upon by larger birds such as the hawk or eagle, and when they die they will be decomposed by fungi and bacteria.
  • The rabbits are herbivorous animals that feed on grass and plants, and these are eaten by foxes and other carnivorous species of medium size. When they die, they become food for some scavengers, such as buzzards.
  • The snails are primary consumers that feed on leaves and plants are food and mice, these secondary consumers that end up food snakes, which in this example of trophic chain tertiary consumers would remain. Thus, if, for example, you wonder if the mouse is a primary or secondary consumer, keep in mind that it is classified as a secondary consumer because it is an omnivorous animal.
  • Some insects, such as the lobster , as primary consumers feed on leaves, and these insects will be food for insectivorous toads and toads for snakes. Snakes can be consumed by some species of mammals such as badgers, foxes, coyotes, among others.
  • The sheep eat grass, these dams puma, jaguars and wolves, secondary consumers, as they die just decomposing by the action of bacteria and fungi.
  • The butterflies , primary consumers feed on nectar from flowers and are consumed by insects like the praying mantis, which in turn is food of bats that end up being preyed upon by snakes.
  • Different varieties of herbs are food for zebras , which are primary consumers, and are preyed upon by lions or crocodiles.

There are also primary marine consumers and these are some of the trophic chains in which we can find them.

  • Phytoplankton , a producer that we find in the sea, is food for small malacostraceous crustaceans, these are eaten by smaller fish, which will be preyed upon by larger ones such as sardines, and sardines preyed upon by barracuda. When they die they are decomposed by scavengers like other decomposing crustaceans.
  • The marine phytoplankton is consumed by zooplankton and this by species such as mussels, which will serve as food for the crabs and in turn these will be eaten by the seagulls.
  • Marine phytoplankton serves as food for zooplankton, which is food for small fish and these are consumed by penguins preyed on by toothed whales.

If half of the primary consumers disappeared, what would happen?

The primary consumers or herbivores feeding biomass , if they disappear would cause great imbalances in the ecosystem :

  • For example, many species of plants manage to spread their seeds thanks to herbivorous animals, the absence of these would limit these plant species to spread and may be at risk of disappearing.
  • However, it would not only have consequences for plant species, but also for omnivores and carnivores that feed on animals that are primary consumers, since they could become extinct by not having a way to feed themselves, thus producing a chain extinction because if they If both primary and secondary consumers were greatly reduced or disappeared, it would also affect the superior consumers in the same way.

Other consuming organisms

In the food chain, different trophic levels are distinguished : producers, consumers and decomposers, but within consumers different types can be found. In this article we have talked about primary consumers, although in this section we will briefly talk about the rest of consumers:

  • Secondary consumers: they are carnivorous animals that feed on beings that are primary consumers.
  • Tertiary consumers: these are carnivorous animals that base their diet on other primary and secondary consumers, but have hardly any predators.
  • Quaternary consumers: they are animals that are located at the top of the trophic pyramid and feed on all consumers. These consumers can be known as super predators and are not stalked by other predators. An example of this consumer would be the human being.
  • Parasites: They are plants or animals that bond with their prey to feed on it for a long time, usually without killing it, although it can greatly weaken it.

Below you can see an example of a pyramid of primary, secondary and tertiary consumers or higher. In addition, we invite you to read these other posts to learn more about the trophic relationships of ecosystems: definition and examples , what are food webs and examples and also trophic levels: what they are, what they are and examples .

If you want to read more articles similar to Primary consumers: what they are and examples , we recommend that you enter our Biology category .

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