Primary Consumers: What They Are, Examples and Importance

The Primary consumers Are organisms that consume energy and nutrient producers. In ecology, organisms that eat on the basis of other organisms are classified as consumers.

Primary consumers differ from other consumers by feeding on producing organisms that make their own food. Energy and nutrients consumed by primary consumers (producer-based) become food for secondary consumers consuming primary consumers.

Primary Consumers: What They Are, Examples and Importance

A ecosystem Requires a constant recharge of energy on the basis that energy is lost through the processes of life, and energy is transmitted through the Trophic levels Of the ecosystem. The photosynthesis Is the method used by plants and algae to convert sunlight into energy, which complements the energy demand, and surrounding ecosystems.

Primary consumers feed through primary producers. But who are the primary producers? These include plants, algae and microscopic organisms that capture energy and take back the nutrients from their surroundings. These are called"autotrophs"because they produce their own food.

In summary, primary consumers consume primary producers to meet their energy and nutrient needs. Examples of consumers can range from a flea to a zebra.

Who are the primary consumers?

Primary consumers differ from each other in the biological needs of which they are being discussed. That is, on earth, a large number of mammals, such as cattle, antelopes, horses and the immense African fauna; Hippos and elephants are examples of primary consumers.

There are undoubtedly other primary consumers on earth, which are much smaller and less exotic. The mouse, the squirrel, and the beetle are examples of primary consumers.

Other levels of the food chain

Inside of food chain Consumers are categorized into three main groups: primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers. Primary consumers, as has been said, are those that feed on primary producers.

Secondary consumers

Secondary consumers are mainly carnivores that feed on other animals. Omnivores, which feed on plants and animals can also be considered as secondary consumers.

Tertiary consumers

Tertiary consumers, sometimes known as predators, are at the top of the food chain and are able to feed on secondary consumers and primary consumers.

These tertiary consumers may well be completely carnivorous, or omnivorous. Humans are one of the examples of a tertiary consumer.

3 Examples of primary consumers

1 - Ruminants

Primary Consumers: What They Are, Examples and Importance 1

Such as cows, sheep, giraffes and goats are primary herbivorous consumers. They feed on plant material such as grass, grasses, roots and branches.

Because the cellulose found in cell walls of plants is difficult to break, ruminants have an adaptive system that allows them to acquire nutrition through fermentation, and digestion within four specialized chambers of their stomachs.

Cows graze the plant material moving from side to side, moving the food to a hard area of ​​the skin, and in the upper part of the mouth (instead of the front of the tooth) called the dental pad.

The chewed food is then directed towards the first digestive chamber, the rumen and the reticulum, where the food is mixed with saliva and separated into liquid form and solid mass.

This dough is returned, and then chewed to reduce as small as possible the size of the food particles. It is then returned in two chambers, where cellular fibroids are broken by protozoa, bacteria and fungus.

The complexity of the stomach of ruminants demonstrates the difficulties that large animals have in extracting sufficient nutrients from the carbohydrates of plants.

However, the volatility of the fatty acids and proteins that are produced as a result of this system form an extremely important component in the human diet.

2- Zooplankton

Primary Consumers: What They Are, Examples and Importance 2

They are microscopic organisms that exist as accumulated organisms suspended in the oceans. These include protozoa, as well as metazoans (animals) that are in their juvenile stage, such as mollusks and crustaceans.

Most of the organisms that make up the zooplankton are heterotrophic, which means that they acquire their nutrients from the coal produced through photosynthesis. This process is carried out by the primary producers of the oceans that convert inorganic coal into usable energy.

In addition, almost entirely, zooplankton are the main producers of food through the filtration of it. In this feeding strategy, water, which contains phytoplankton, is conveyed to specialized filters phytoplankton is filtered and digested.

3- herbivorous birds

Primary Consumers: What They Are, Examples and Importance 3

Many bird species can be carnivorous or omnivorous. These occupy the highest most trophic level of herbivorous birds. However, many birds feed on only fruits, seeds and cherries, which places them at the primary consumer level within the trophic pyramid.

Birds, which base their diet on plant material, often have morphologically adapted peaks that allow them to exploit their food source.

Toucans, parrots and parakeets have extremely strong peaks that help them destroy nuts, and additionally acts as a stabilizing device to climb large trees and reach the highest fruits.

Hummingbirds, others of this same species usually have very small, elongated and pointed bodies that allow them to access the deeper nectar inside the flower bodies.

Many canaries, parrots and finches have a diet consisting of grains and seeds, so they have a short, hard and pointed peak. This allows them to collect the seeds with great precision.

Importance in the ecosystem

Through the food chain, and the perfect balance between them, there is an ecological welfare that prevents overpopulation of animals, pest extinction, and allows the ultimate goal of feeding humans.

Without an adequate balance, the ecosystem could collapse and cause the decline of all affected species. This would undoubtedly lead to a corrupt and inefficient food chain.


  1. Cornell Center for Materials Research. 5 March 2008. 9 February 2012.
    Retrieved and extracted from Biology Dictionary. Dr. Chen.
  2. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University: Food Chains and Food Webs
    Marietta College: Ecosystems.

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