What is a Consumer in Biology?

In the food chain of an ecosystem, there are consumers. Consumers are organisms that feed on plants or other animals for energy. Within a food chain, there’s a primary and secondary consumers.

What is a Primary Consumer?

Looking for a definition of a primary consumer? In biology, primary consumers are herbivores that feed on plants for energy. They are the first consumer in the food chain. However, unable to make their energy and instead rely on the consumption and digestion of producers or other consumers, or both, to survive, there are secondary and tertiary consumers also.

Producers are organisms that make their organic nutrients (food) – usually using energy from sunlight; for example, green plants make their food by photosynthesis.

What are the Four Types of Consumers?

Four primary consumers exist within all ecosystems. These are:

  • Primary consumers (herbivores) – plant eaters (e.g., a cow)
  • Secondary consumers (carnivores) – meat eaters (e.g., a lion) and omnivores
  • Tertiary consumers (omnivores) – plant and animal eaters (e.g., humans or birds)
  • Decomposers – organisms that break down dead organic material (e.g., fungi)

What are Examples of Primary Consumers?

Primary consumers are usually herbivores and live off plants. These consumers can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Examples of primary consumers in biology include:

  1. Zooplankton
  2. Butterflies
  3. Rabbits
  4. Grasshoppers
  5. Giraffes
  6. Snail
  7. Elephants
  8. Pandas
  9. Mice
  10. Deer
  11. Insects

What are Examples of Secondary Consumers?

Secondary consumers can be both carnivores and omnivores. Carnivores eat meat and rely on other animals for energy and survival. Omnivores rely on plants and other animals for power and survival, making them secondary consumers in the natural food chain.

Examples of secondary consumers include:

  • Seals
  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Bears
  • Skunks
  • Eagles
  • Wolves
  • Rats

What are Tertiary Consumers?

Tertiary consumers are animals that obtain nutrition, gain energy, and survive by preying on primary and secondary consumers in the food chain. Tertiary consumers are mainly carnivores but can be omnivores too.

Often referred to as ‘apex predators,’ tertiary consumers are usually at the top of the food chain, having no natural predators.

Examples of tertiary consumers include:

  • Humans
  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Leopards
  • Polar Bears
  • Crocodiles
  • Pythons
  • Sharks

What is a Consumer (Goods and Services)?

A consumer is a person who buys goods or services for their use.

What is a Consumer in Advertising?

This is making products or services known to the public and persuading people to buy them.

Advertisers will often use:

  • Display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Outdoor advertising
  • Radio and podcasts
  • Direct mail
  • Video ads
  • Product placement
  • Event marketing and email marketing

What is Consumer Goods?

A consumer good is the end product produced by a business that the consumer purchases. For example:

  • Microwaves
  • Fridges
  • T-shirts
  • Washing machines
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