14 julio, 2024

Tertiary consumers: what they are, characteristics, types, examples

We teach you what tertiary organisms are, their characteristics and types that exist. We also give you several examples of tertiary consumers.

What are tertiary consumers?

The tertiary consumers They are organisms that feed on primary and secondary consumers. They can be carnivorous or omnivorous, that is, their diet can be based on the exclusive consumption of meat or also include sources of plant origin.

Another name for tertiary consumers is apex predatorsThey are at the top of the food chain. To get the nutrients they need, they depend on the availability of primary and secondary consumers.

There are many organisms that are tertiary consumers and it is possible to find them in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. When these predators die, they serve as food source for scavengers and decomposers.

There are certain food chains that have elements that are above tertiary consumers; these are known as super predators.

Characteristics of tertiary consumers

– Are heterotrophic living beings They must obtain energy through the consumption of organic matter.

they can be carnivorous and eat only meat or omnivoresconsuming meat and also vegetables.

– Their role in the food chain is important, as they function as control mechanism with populations of secondary consumers.

– Indirectly they also help to keep the rest of the members of the food chain under control.

– They serve as food source for decomposers and scavengersbecause when they die their meat is used by them.

They may be threatened by quaternary consumers or top predators.

Types of tertiary consumers

predatorsThey quickly attack their prey. They can eat all of it or select some parts to feed on.
Browsers: It is not common for them to kill prey and choose only a portion of the animal to eat.
parasites: they feed on certain parts they choose. It is common for them to stay in the intestines and there they gradually consume the tissue.
scavengers: They feed only on decomposing corpses.

Examples of tertiary consumers

seals: marine mammals that base their diet on catching a wide variety of prey, their food depends on the area in which they are. They can feed on fish and even other species of seals.
crocodiles: reptiles that eat fish, other reptiles and small mammals.
sharks: Most shark species feed on fish and invertebrate animals such as clams.
herons: These birds feed on fish, crustaceans, frogs, salamanders, snakes and some species of insects.
Killer whales: marine mammals that eat other mammals, such as sea lions and, in some cases, also whales.
hawks: hunting bird whose food source is ducks, seagulls, pigeons, blackbirds, starlings, among other birds.
lions: carnivorous cats that hunt mainly wildebeest, impala, antelope, zebra, giraffe and buffalo.
snakes: All snakes eat a carnivorous diet, which is based on birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, invertebrates, and occasionally other reptiles.
barracuda: fish that feed on other fish such as sardines, bogues, mullet, mackerel and, in certain circumstances, even their own offspring.
turtles: Various species of turtles feed on crustaceans and small fish.
foxes: omnivorous species that can eat from seeds and fruits to prey such as hares, reptiles and insects.
panthers: cats capable of capturing large prey, such as deer; they are also adept at catching small animals, such as frogs, mice, and birds.
Polar bears: Mammals that feed mainly on seals and barbudas.
brunettes: carnivorous fish that eat small fish, octopus, squid and crustaceans.
hyenas: One of the most famous scavenger species, its diet is based on the remains left by predatory animals.
Royal Owl: predator that hunts rabbits, rats and partridges.
gray wolves: predators that gather in a herd to hunt elk, mules, deer or wild boar, among other animals.
bats: Certain species of bats feed on small animals such as mice, lizards, and toads.
vultures: scavengers that can feed on meat at any stage of decomposition.
raccoons: They have an omnivorous diet, based on crustaceans, arthropods, frogs, fish, nuts and seeds.

Importance of tertiary consumers

Both secondary and tertiary consumers help control the population of living beings that serve as a source of food, preventing specimens of a species from multiplying without restraint.

In addition, they provide organic matter when they die, functioning as a source of food for other living beings and providing substances that decompose and are then reused, thus reintegrating into the food chain.


Tertiary Consumer – Definition, Examples & Function. Taken from biologydictionary.net
Tertiary Consumer: Definition, Examples and Functions. Taken from earthclipse.com

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