Back to Basics- Producers/Consumers
We learned all the vocabulary for what animals are called by what they eat! Today we are talking a bit more about the food web with producers and consumers!
Plants/Producers: Plants produce their own food. They convert energy from the sun, carbon dioxide and water from the soil to make glucose/sugar. This is called photosynthesis.
Animals/Consumers: Animals get their energy/food from other sources since they can not produce it themselves. They consumer either plants, other animals or both to live.
Consumers are broken down in to three categories:
Primary: animals that are herbivores.
Secondary: animals that are omnivores and carnivores.
Tertiary: animals are often called apex predators. They are at the top of the of the food chain. They are either carnivores or omnivores.
Fungus/Bacteria/Decomposers: Decomposers break down decaying organic (plant/animal) material and return it to the soil! Some insects do this also.
As you can begin to imagine, the food web is a delicate balance! If you remove one animal/plant from a the ecosystem then you can put the whole system out of whack and endanger certain animals. If a apex predator disappears, then a primary consumer can overpopulate and their resources can reach capacity!
At one time the southern sea otter was hunted to very low numbers. These carnivores eat urchins and keep their populations in check. The urchins eat kelp. When there are no sea otters to eat the urchins, the urchins begin to eat the kelp forest at alarming rates. Without the kelp forest, many other fish and invertebrates would lose their habitat. As the otters populations have grown after being protected, the balance of the kelp forest has been restored!