What's the difference between producers and consumers?

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gsenviro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In simplest terms, producers produce something and consumers consume something. From a scientific perspective, producers are the primary components of an ecosystem who produce substances like food (or substrate), nutrients and oxygen (required for breathing); materials that can be used by other species. Plants are a perfect example of producers. Consumers, on the other hand, consume materials generated by the producers and hence they use the food, nutrients and oxygen. Animals, man, etc. are good examples of consumers. Producers are capable of photosynthesis, a process by which they covert light energy into chemical energy, while consumers use respiration. Producers generate complex organic molecules, while consumers break them down into simpler ones (say, sugars to carbon dioxide, etc.). Producers concentrate energy into complex molecules, while the consumers convert these into simpler molecules and also get energy as a by-product.

Hope this helps. 

vlmsthn | Student

Producers: Produce food on their own so they are called producers. 

Producers synthesize food for the entire ecosystem through the process of photosynthesis.

- also called autotrophs

Ex: plants, phytoplankton...

Plants with the help of carbon dioxide and sunlight, synthesize food. This process is called photosynthesis.

Consumers: They cannot synthesize food on their own, so they depend on producers for their food.

Consumers consume food synthesized by the producers/autotrophs.

- also called heterotrophs

Consumers are classified into 3 types based on their food preferences.

1) Herbivores: They feed upon only plants.

Ex: deer, cow..

2) Carnivores: They feed upon only animals.

Ex: Lion, tiger..

3) Omnivores: They feed upon both plants and animals.

Ex: man, pigs...

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