Topic – Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers

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Read about producers, consumers, and decomposers, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers

Living things can be grouped into three categories:

  Producers—Plants are called producers because they use energy from sunlight to make the food they need. (Produce means to make or create.)

  Consumers—Animals are consumers. They cannot make their own food the way plants can. Instead, animals eat plants or other animals. Some animals eat both. (Consume means to eat.)

  Decomposers—Some living things break down dead plants and animals into very tiny pieces. These pieces go into the soil, where plants absorb them and—with the help of sunlight—make the food they need. Some examples of decomposers are mushrooms, bacteria, and earthworms. (Decompose means to break down.)

The living things in a food chain are all producers or consumers. Here is an example:

What about sunlight? Sunlight is not a living thing, so it is not a producer, consumer, or decomposer.

Yuck! Dead Things!

You might not like dead plants and animals, but decomposers sure do. That is a good thing. Decomposers play an important role in a food chain.

Raccoons are scavengers, they eat out of garbage cans, and even roadkill.

Look at the food chain above. When any of the consumers die, parts of their bodies may be eaten by scavengers. (Scavengers are animals that eat dead animals). The scavengers may leave behind some tasty bits that they were not able to eat. Then the decomposers move in to finish the job. They break down some parts of an animal’s body that scavengers did not eat.

Remember that some decomposers break down dead plants. When any living thing dies, decomposers help turn it into tiny pieces that living plants can use to make food. You can think of decomposers as living things that recycle dead plants and animals into something useful for plants.


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