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Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers
Transcript of Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers
Matter and Energy in Ecosystems
The energy in most ecosystems is provided by the Sun.
Producers are organisms that use the Sun's energy to make their own food. Green plants are producers. They make their own food using energy from the Sun in a process called photosynthesis.
Consumers are organisms that cannot produce their own food. So, they must eat other organisms to get energy and nutrients.
How can you compare the characteristics of several common ecosystems, the relationship among their organisms, and describe how all of the organisms in an ecosystem are interconnected?
Producers absorb energy directly from the Sun to make food. This energy is transferred to consumers when they eat producers. Decomposers get their energy by feeding on dead plant and animal material.
Other producers include algae and some kinds of bacteria and protists. All of the other organisms in an ecosystem depend on producers for energy. This is because animals, including humans, cannot make their own food.
Green plants, such as grass and trees, are producers that use energy from the Sun to make food.
All animals are consumers. Some consumers eat plants, some eat other animals, and some can eat both plants and animals.
A herbivore is an animal that gets its energy from eating plants, and only plants.
An omnivore is a kind of animal that eats either other animals or plants. Some omnivores will hunt and eat their food, like carnivores, eating herbivores and other omnivores. Some others are scavengers and will eat dead matter. Many will eat eggs from other animals.
A carnivore is an animal that gets food from killing and eating other animals.
Herbivores need a lot of energy to stay alive. Many of them, like cows and sheep, eat all day long.
Carnivores generally eat herbivores, but can eat omnivores, and occasionally other carnivores. Animals that eat other animals, like carnivores and omnivores are important to any ecosystem, because they keep other species from getting overpopulated.
Since carnivores have to hunt down and kill other animals they require a large amount of calories. This means that they have to eat many other animals over the course of the year. The bigger the carnivore, the more it has to eat. You should make sure that you have many more herbivores and omnivores than carnivores.
Omnivores eat plants, but not all kinds of plants. Unlike herbivores, omnivores can't digest some of the substances in grains or other plants that do not produce fruit. They can eat fruits and vegetables, though. Some of the insect omnivores in this simulation are pollinators, which are very important to the life cycle of some kinds of plants.
Decomposers are organisms that get energy from feeding on wastes and dead plants and animals. Fungi, such as mushrooms, are examples of decomposers. Some kinds of bacteria and insects are also decomposers.
The role that decomposers play in an ecosystem is very important. Decomposers "clean" the environment by returning matter and nutrients that were contained in the bodies of dead plants and animals back to the soil. The nutrients that decomposers release into the soil are used by producers for growth.
Decomposers are also important for helping to recycle matter in the ecosystem through the water, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen cycles.