Producers, consumers, and decomposers are the three groups of organisms that comprise a food chain in an ecosystem. Each group performs a different function and its members are differentiated by their mode of food acquisition. The producers’ main function includes the capture, conversion, and storage of energy as nutrients in food (Beck). They supply the nutrients that are needed for the survival of consumers. Examples include green plants and algae (Beck). They are called producers because they possess organelles called chloroplasts, which contain chlorophyll that absorbs energy from the sun and converts it into sugar.
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Consumers acquire nutrients from producers since they cannot manufacture food on their own. They create a balance in the food chain by regulating the number of plants in an ecosystem. In addition, they enhance the functionality of the consumer web by providing food to scavengers. They are classified into three groups that include the primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers (Beck). Herbivores such as cows, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and goats are primary consumers because they eat plants only. Carnivores such as cats and hawks are secondary consumers because they do not eat plants but feed on other consumers (Beck). Omnivores like bears and monkeys are tertiary consumers because they consume both plants and animals.
Decomposers play an important function in a food chain because they break down plant and animal matter into simple compounds that can be used to produce energy. Moreover, they keep the primary producers alive by supplying the nutrients that are necessary for their growth (Batema). Examples include bacteria, fungi, and snails. Scavengers are also decomposers because they feed on detritus and convert it to energy (Batema). Unlike consumers, they do not feed on plants and animals unless they are dead.
Batema, Cara. “What Role Do Decomposers Play in a Food Chain?” Sciencing, 2018, Web.
Beck, Kevin. “Producer vs. Consumer”. Sciencing, 2018, Web.