Skip to content
Home » Second Order Consumer in Food Chain

Second Order Consumer in Food Chain

In this second order consumer in food chain post we have briefly explained about second order consumer, definition, types, and functions.

Secondary Consumer in Food Chain

A secondary consumer in food chain is an organism that consumes primary consumers to obtain energy. Herbivores or organisms that only eat autotrophic plants are always the primary consumers. Secondary consumer in food chain, on the other hand, can be either carnivores or omnivores.

Carnivores consume only other animals, whereas Omnivores consume both plant and animal matter. To survive, almost every secondary consumer in food chain, whether herbivores or carnivores, must consume the primary consumer. A heterotrophic mode of nutrition refers to how a secondary consumer in food chain obtains energy by consuming other organisms.

Examples

Secondary carnivorous consumers include spiders, snakes, and seals. The other type of secondary consumer is the omnivore. For energy, they consume both plant and animal materials. Secondary omnivorous consumers, such as bears and skunks, hunt prey and eat plants.

Secondary consumer in food chain come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found in almost every living space on the planet. Secondary consumers live in a variety of extreme environments, including icy tundras, arid savannas, and man-made bodies of water. They have one thing in common, whether on land or in water: the type of food they eat – they are primary consumers.

Because of the variety of food sources available, aquatic environments can support a wide range of secondary consumer in food chain. Piranhas are aquatic omnivores that consume fish, snails, aquatic plants, and even birds. Smaller, less predatory sharks can also be considered secondary consumers because they are frequently hunted by larger sharks, whales, or fish.

There would be no population regulation for primary aquatic consumers if there were no secondary aquatic consumers. This would result in overconsumption by primary producers like phytoplankton, which make up the first trophic level. Over 70% of the oxygen on Earth is produced by phytoplankton. There would be no life without them (and other autotrophs like them).

Terrestrial habitats can range from frozen habitats with sub-zero temperatures to deserts with no water near the equator. Secondary consumers, fortunately, have adapted to all types of ecosystems.

Temperate regions are home to moles, birds, and other secondary consumers such as dogs and cats. Humans were once thought to be secondary consumers because other mammals could easily hunt them. Humans are now regarded as the ultimate tertiary consumer, thanks to evolution and new technologies.

Secondary consumer in food chain are distinguished by the fact that, depending on the circumstances, they can also be classified as primary or tertiary consumers. Squirrels, for example, are a primary consumer of nuts and fruits.

When a squirrel begins to eat insects or baby birds, it is classified as a secondary consumer in food chain. This type of switching can occur at any time and in any setting, depending on the available food and predators, as illustrated below.

Secondary Consumer

Functions

Secondary consumer in food chain are an essential component of the food chain. They control the primary consumer population by eating them for energy. Secondary consumer in food chain also supply energy to tertiary consumers who hunt them. Scientists track the flow of energy through consumers by categorising them into tropic levels. 

Plants and other autotrophs, for example, are at the bottom of the pyramid because they can generate their own energy. This is the first level of trophic organisation. The second tropic level is made up of primary consumers (herbivores); the third tropic level is made up of secondary consumer in food chain, and so on, as shown below:

Secondary Consumer

Second Order Consumer in Food Chain

Because metabolic heat is released when an organism eats another organism, energy is lost as it moves up the trophic levels, as shown by the pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid generates all of its own energy. When a secondary organism eats, it only receives 1% of the original energy available.

To provide enough energy to the pyramid’s top tiers, there must be far more producers and plant-eaters than anything else. However, the fact that there are fewer secondary consumer in food chain does not diminish their importance. Within the food chain, there is a delicate balance. If there aren’t enough secondary consumers, tertiary consumers will go hungry (or worse, extinction) because they won’t have a food supply. If there are too many secondary consumer in food chain, they will consume more and more primary consumers until they are extinct. Both extremes would destabilise the natural order of life on Earth.

Secondary Consumer

Because metabolic heat is released when an organism eats another organism, energy is lost as it moves up the trophic levels, as shown by the pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid generates all of its own energy. When a secondary organism eats, it only receives 1% of the original energy available.

To provide enough energy to the pyramid’s top tiers, there must be far more producers and plant-eaters than anything else. However, the fact that there are fewer secondary consumer in food chain does not diminish their importance. Within the food chain, there is a delicate balance. If there aren’t enough secondary consumer in food chain, tertiary consumers will go hungry (or worse, extinction) because they won’t have a food supply. If there are too many secondary consumer in food chain, they will consume more and more primary consumers until they are extinct. Both extremes would destabilise the natural order of life on Earth.

Types

As previously stated, secondary consumers include carnivores and omnivores, implying that these are the two kinds of secondary consumers. Carnivores are animal species that feed solely on the meat of other animals. Snakes, seals, lizards, mice, and fish are a few examples.

Carnivores eat only meat or other animals. Some secondary consumers are large predators, but even the smallest ones frequently eat herbivores larger than themselves to obtain enough energy. Carnivorous secondary consumers include spiders, snakes, and seals.

The other type of secondary consumer in food chain is the omnivore. For energy, they consume both plant and animal materials. Bears and skunks are examples of omnivorous secondary consumers, which hunt prey as well as consume plants. Some omnivores, on the other hand, are merely scavengers. Instead of hunting, they eat the excess animal remains left by other predators. Animals that scavenge for food include opossums, vultures, and hyenas.

Further Readings

Reference