This lesson is about producers and consumers in the tropical rainforest. In this lesson, we’ll go over what producers and consumers are and look at specific examples in the tropical rainforest ecosystem.
Producers and Consumers
Producers and consumers appear in everyday life. Think of a shopping mall.
Factories produce the goods (the producers), and consumers go to the mall and buy the goods they need. Although the producers and consumers in the rainforest are a little more natural, the basic idea is the same.Producers are organisms that make their own food. Much like the factory produces the goods for everyone else, producers provide energy in the form of food for the rest of the ecosystem.
Consumers are organisms that have to eat food to get energy. Consumers are just like the consumer in the store, except they eat instead of buy what the producers make. There are all kind of consumers, from fungi to bacteria to animals. However, they all have the same thing in common: they need to eat to obtain energy.
Let’s take a look at the types of producers and consumers in the tropical rainforest.
Producers of the Tropical Rainforest
The tropical rainforest is a lush forest with extremely high amounts of rain. The temperature is warm and muggy, allowing for an abundance of plants and animals. Tropical rainforests exist around the globe, one of the largest and most famous being the Amazon rainforest in South America.The producers of the tropical rainforest are like none other in the world. There are trees that rival skyscrapers in the city, climbing vines, plants that can attack and eat animals, all the way to the moss and grass that coat the forest floor. Some of the most delicious foods we eat come from the rainforest as producers.
Natural bananas, coconuts, oranges, grapefruit, coffee, and cocoa beans for producing chocolate live here. Even the rubber on our tires comes from rubber trees growing in the Amazon.
Consumers of the Tropical Rainforest
The diversity and abundance of producers supports a wide variety of consumers.
Consumers can be divided into layers, called trophic levels. Primary consumers eat only producers; secondary consumers eat primary consumers; and tertiary consumers eat primary and secondary consumers. Birds are a good example of primary consumers in the Amazon. Hummingbirds hover around the producers, eating their nectar, while larger birds, like the toucan, fly in search of fruit. In the trees, monkeys are also primary consumers, such as the proboscis monkey.
They make a home while searching for the same fruits we enjoy, such as bananas and oranges.Secondary consumers are a little more aggressive. Colorful tree frogs dot the leaves of plants, but beware! Although beautiful, these consumers have deadly toxins in their skin to ward off other consumers which may see them as prey. Massive spiders, such as the Goliath birdeater, grow to up to a foot in diameter, creating sticky traps for their food.Tertiary consumers are found both in the trees and in the water.
Jaguars hunt down unsuspecting monkeys. Despite their size, they are nimble in the trees, searching for food. Giant river otters and pink dolphins swim in the Amazon River, eating large and small fish for dinner.
Piranhas, the famous flesh-eating fish, also feast on secondary consumers like large fish and mammals that may wander into the water.Fungi are a special type of producer called a decomposer. Decomposers break down living or dead material to recycle it back into the ecosystem.
Although they look like plants, these organisms actually get their energy from the organisms they grow on. An example in the rainforest is the stinkhorn fungi, common in tropical areas. Like the name suggests, this mushroom smells quite unpleasant, but is interesting to the eye. Many form unique colors and shapes.
Tropical Rainforest Ecosystem
This warm, wet climate of the tropical rainforest makes it a hot spot of biodiversity. It supports massive amounts of producers. Since producers make their own food and supply energy for the rest of the food chain, the large number of producers means more species of consumers can survive here than other places. However, the rainforest is under attack. Clear-cutting trees, burning land, and excessive hunting are all threatening the producers and consumers in this area.
In summary, producers are organisms that make their own food. Producers supply energy for consumers that need to eat to obtain energy.
Primary consumers, like monkeys and hummingbirds, eat producers. Secondary consumers, like carnivorous spiders and frogs, eat the primary consumers. Tertiary consumers, like jaguars, dolphins, and piranhas consume both primary and secondary consumers. Special consumers called decomposers, like fungi, break down dead or living things to recycle nutrients while feeding themselves. As a biodiversity hot spot, the rainforest is under threat from clear-cutting, burning land and excessive hunting.
The Producers and Consumers of the Tropical Rainforest
|Producers||Primary Consumers||Secondary Consumers||Tertiary Consumers|
|Trees, vines, mosses, grasses, tropical fruit trees, decomposers||Monkeys, birds||Tree frogs, giant spiders||Jaguars, dolphins, giant fish|
Gathering knowledge about the producers and consumers of the tropical rainforest could prepare you to:
- Discuss the relationship between producers and consumers
- Highlight the levels of consumers in the tropical rainforest
- Name some producers found in the tropical rainforest
- Recognize the threats to the ecosystem of the tropical rainforest