Tertiary Consumers: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

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Tertiary Consumers Definition

Tertiary consumers are those organisms that get their nutrition from primary and secondary consumers. They are also called top carnivores. In ecology, a shape pyramid is used to show the feeding relationships of organisms, it is called an ecological pyramid.

The flow of energy through different trophic levels in an ecosystem is also represented by the ecological pyramid. Based on the mode of nutrition, the organisms are categorized into different groups, these groups are called trophic levels. A specific position in the ecological pyramid based on the mode by which an organism obtains its nutrition is called a trophic level.

The base of the pyramid is occupied by producers or autotrophs. Autotrophs can produce their food by the process of photosynthesis, they convert inorganic molecules such as CO2 and water into organic sugars in the presence of sunlight.

Other trophic levels of the pyramid are occupied by consumers. The consumers can be divided into primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers. They cannot perform photosynthesis and get their nutrition from other organisms. Decomposers or detritivores are found at the top of the pyramid and feed upon the dead organic matter.

Consumers depend upon the producers of other heterotrophs for their nutrition. They adopt different methods such as parasitism, predation, hunting, etc. to obtain food. Tertiary consumers are found at the fourth trophic level in the pyramid. These organisms are mainly carnivores and feed upon the primary consumers and secondary consumers.

In other words, the carnivores that get their nutrition from other carnivores are called tertiary consumers. They are also called third-level consumers.

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