What is a producer in biology
The Material cycle describes the repetitive process of the cyclical conversion of organic and inorganic substances in ecosystems. The most famous cycles include the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. The reason for these material cycles is the interaction of the individual organisms in the respective ecosystem. Overall, three types of organisms involved in the material cycle can be distinguished: producers, consumers and destructors.
The producers form the basis for every ecosystem. Their enormous production of biomass represents the essential food source for consumers, and at the same time is also the beginning or the smallest unit of every food chain. The producers include plants in terrestrial ecosystems and phytoplankton in aquatic ecosystems. An essential feature of both is the ability to self-feed (autotrophy). Sunlight and inorganic nutrient salts alone are enough for producers to grow without having to rely on any additional food.
Compared to producers, consumers are unable to generate energy for growth and self-preservation only from solar energy and nutrient salts. As so-called heterotrophs, they have to feed on other organisms by ingesting food. Overall, consumers can be divided into three major groups:
1. Primary consumers: feed on plants -> herbivores (e.g. caterpillars)
Secondary consumers: feed on other consumers -> carnivores (e.g. birds)
3. Tertiary consumers: feed on other carnivores -> higher carnivores (e.g. fox)
As they grow, producers continually deprive the environment of nutrients. In order to avoid a nutrient deficiency in the long run, the inorganic nutrients absorbed by producers and consumers have to return to their usable initial state. This task is up to the destructors: They convert dead organic material into inorganic nutrient salts, whereby the nutrients are again available / usable for producers. This remineralization is a positive side effect for the ecosystem: First and foremost, the bacteria and fungi belonging to the group of destructors are themselves heterotrophic consumers because they feed on dead organic material (leaves, carcasses, excretions).
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