|Topics||Consumers, Decomposers, Scavengers, Secondary Consumers, Tertiary Consumers|
Most animals consume other organisms to survive. Consumers (heterotrophs) are divided into three types, primary, secondary, and tertiary, based on their place in the food chain.
Decomposers (saprotrophs) are organisms such as bacteria and fungi that break down the organic matter in the dead bodies of plants and animals into simple nutrients.
Like decomposers, scavengers also break down the dead bodies of plants and animals into simple nutrients. The difference is that scavengers operate on much larger refuse and dead animals (carrion). Decomposers then consume the much smaller particles left over by the scavengers.
Secondary consumers (carnivores) subsist mainly on primary consumers. Omnivores are secondary consumers that also eat producers. Examples are rats, fish, and chickens.
Tertiary consumers eat primary consumers and secondary consumers and are typically carnivorous predators. Tertiary consumers may also be omnivores. Examples include wolves, sharks, and human beings.