Park Life Blog

Wildlife Education: What are Producers and Consumers?

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of animal and plant life that call the Park "home". There are many ways to classify plants and animals, one of which being as a producer or a consumer. Today, let's learn about producers and consumers and the differences between them.


What is a Producer?
Organisms are living things such as animals, plants, and fungi. Organisms require energy to survive, but they obtain their energy in different ways.  Some organisms make their own food using sunlight or chemical energy. These organisms are often referred to as producers. Producers are also often called autotrophs because an autotroph can “produce” its own food. Autotrophs, such as trees, grass and other plants, are organisms that make their own food using sunlight (solar energy) or chemical energy.


What is a Consumer?
Consumers are organisms that must "consume" their energy from other organisms.  Mushrooms and molds obtain energy by absorbing nutrients from organisms in their environment. The great blue heron is another example of an organism that obtains its energy by eating other organisms. Heterotrophs are organisms that obtain their energy by eating or absorbing nutrients from other organisms. Because a heterotroph must “consume” its energy from other organisms, it is also called a consumer.

Take a walk outside and see if you can find examples of producers and consumers in the natural world!

To find additional education resources, click here.

Special thanks to International Paper for helping make education programs at Shelby Farms Park possible.

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