Primary consumers


The primary consumers are often herbivores that feed on plants autotrophic, which produce their own food through photosynthesis . Many primary consumers adopt different feeding strategies to maximize the effectiveness of foraging behavior. They generally have specific physiological adaptations that allow them to process carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis. Many of them also have symbiotic bacteria , which live inside a special organ called the cecum and help with the digestion of plant material.


What are primary consumers?

They are the animals that feed on plants or algae , and that obtain the energy and nutrients they need to live on them. They are known as herbivores and are, in turn, food for others, forming the food chain .

  • Characteristics of primary consumers
  • Which are
  • Types
  • Importance of primary consumers
  • Examples

Characteristics of primary consumers

The main characteristics of primary consumers are the following:

  • Primary consumers feed on producer organisms that make their own food.
  • They transform the energy and nutrients consumed into food for secondary consumers who consume primary consumers.
  • These animals are also known by the name of herbivores , this because they feed only on vegetables.
  • Primary consumers are also the food of others, thus joining the food chain .
  • They do not have the ability to produce their own food, and for this reason they need to eat different species to get the energy to live.
  • They need food to be able to obtain the solar energy stored in the form of starch, sugar or cellulose.
  • The primary consumer subsists by feeding on vegetation , trees , shrubs .
  • They can feed on herbs, tree leaves, and various flowers and plants.
  • They are a fundamental part of the food chain .

Which are

Generally speaking, the primary consumers are the animals that have been called by the name of herbivores and are those that are forming the second trophic level within the food chain . They are the animals that obtain the energy and nutrients they require to survive from plants.

Primary consumers at the same time become food for other living beings, thus integrating themselves into the food chain. Among the primary consumers we then have the horse, the rabbit, the cow, the sheep, the worm, and others, which are animals that feed on plants or algae.


The types of primary consumers that exist are the following:

  • Ruminants : includes animals such as cows, sheep, giraffes, and goats. They feed on grass , herbs, and roots . They have an adaptive system that allows them to nourish themselves through fermentation in their four stomachs and regurgitate the food they eat when it is semi-digested to chew it again.
  • Herbivorous birds : they feed on fruits and seeds . Among them we find parrots, toucans, parakeets, canaries and finches. They have a hard beak that allows them to collect the seeds and crush them. They are part of the food chain as they are also food for other carnivorous animals .
  • Zooplankton : is a microscopic organism floating that are suspended in the oceans , so generally are weak swimmers and generally only move along with the currents . The group includes protozoa , as well as metazoans (animals) that are in their juvenile form, such as jellyfish , mollusks, and crustaceans .

Importance of primary consumers

Primary consumers form an all-important link between primary producers and secondary consumers or carnivorous animals. The energy and nutrients that are stored in plant tissues cannot be used by secondary consumers, because they do not have a digestive process capable of breaking down this type of material.

The base of the food chain is occupied by the primary producers, since they are capable of capturing energy from the sun and inorganic nutrients to create the organic molecules that are necessary for life.

Energy and nutrients that are stored within the cells of primary producers are necessary for carnivorous animals and for this reason herbivorous animals play a critical role in converting nutrients into digestible forms for secondary consumers.


Some examples of primary consumers are:

  • Cows, goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas, deer, buffalo, deer, and bison. Birds such as parakeets, parrots, toucans, goldfinches, canaries.

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