Food Relationships among Organisms

What is Photosynthesis?

Meaning of Herbivores

Meaning of Carnivores

Meaning of Omnivores

Meaning of Scavengers

The most important interaction shared by all the organisms in the community is food-getting.


Populations in the community may be divided into three groups according to their way of getting food.

The main source of energy for all the living things in the community is the sun.  Most plants have a green coloring in their leaves called chlorophyll.  Because of chlorophyll, plants can use the energy from the sun to make food in a process called photosynthesis (from photo which means “light” and synthesi which means “to put together”).  Because plants can make their own food, they are called the producers in the community.  Some kinds of bacteria and the algae are also organisms that can make food.  They are also called producers.

Other living things in the community that do not have chlorophyll depend on producers for food.  They are the consumers.  People, animals, and other living organisms are consumers of food.  Consumers can be grouped into four, according to the type of food that they eat.

Consumers that eat plants only are called herbivores.  Grasshoppers, rabbits, cows, goats, zebras and other grazing animals are examples of herbivores.

Consumers that only eat meat of other animals are called carnivores.  Tigers, lions, sharks, and hawks.

Consumers such as bears, human beings, and raccoons, eat both plants and meat of animals.  They are called omnivores.

Animals that feed on dead animals are called scavengers.  These kinds of consumers do not hunt other animals by themeselve.  They just eat leftovers of other animals.  Vultures and some bottom dwellers in the ocean are examples of scavengers.

When plants and animals in the community die, their bodies are acted upon by the organisms of decay.  The dead bodies are broken down into simple substances which can be used by other organisms in the environment.  These kinds of organisms are called decomposers.  Microorganisms like fungi and bacteria are examples of decomposers.

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