Energy Transfer in Ecosystems. Chapter 5. What are the Roles of Living Things?.
This archer fish is leaping for its prey. It eats insects to get energy for living. Archer fish also hunt by spitting at insects to knock them into the water. Some archer fish are eaten by other animals or die and then decay in the water.
Producer—a living thing, such as a plant, that can make its own food.
Consumer—a living thing that can’t make its own food and must eat other things.
Herbivore—an animal that eats only plants, or producers.
Carnivore—an animal that eats only other animals.
Omnivore—an animal that eats both plants and other animals.
Decomposer—a living thing that feeds on the wastes of plants and animals.
Most living things on Earth get the energy to live from sunlight. Green plants and algae use energy in sunlight, plus water and carbon dioxide, to make their own food.
Any living thing that can make its own food is called a producer.
Some animals, such as deer and cattle, get the energy they need to live by eating plants.Not all animals eat plants.
An animal that eats plants or other animals is called a consumer. Consumers can’t make their own food, so they must eat other living things.
Some consumers eat the same kind of food all year. Horses, for example, eat grass during warm weather. During winter, they eat hay, a kind of dried grass.
Other consumers eat different things in different seasons. For example, black bears eat grass in spring. Later on, they might eat birds’ eggs.
Florida panthers eat other consumers, but their diet varies. Mostly, panthers consume wild hogs, which are easy for them to catch. Another favorite meal is deer.
Consumers are not all the same. In fact, there are 3 kinds—herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
A carnivore is an animal that eats only other animals. The Florida panther, lion, and tiger shark are carnivores.
A herbivore is an animal that eats only plants, or producers. Horses are herbivores. So are giraffes, squirrels, and rabbits.
An omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and other animals. That is, omnivores eat both producers and other consumers. Sea turtles and bears are omnivores.
A decomposer is a living thing that feeds on wastes and on the remains of dead plants and animals.
Decomposers break down wastes into nutrients, substances that are taken in by living things to help them grow. These nutrients become part of the soil.
Decomposers come in many shapes and sizes. Some are tiny bacteria that you can only see with a microscope. Other decomposers are as big as mushrooms and earthworms.
Without decomposers, Earth would be covered with dead plants and animals.