What is the difference between a producer, secondary consumer, primary consumer, and tertiary consumer?

1 Answer
May 11, 2018

A producer produces their own organic molecules while the consumers get organic molecules by consuming others.


The food chain is a sequence of organisms that basically show who gets the organic nutrients by consuming other organisms.

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  • also known as autotrophs or self-feeders
  • they produce their own organic molecules like carbon, essentially feeding themselves.
  • there are two types of autotrophs: photoautotrophs and chemoautotrophs
  • a photoautotroph uses sunlight to create their organic molecules (ex: plants)
  • a chemoautotroph uses chemicals to make their organic molecules (ex: hydrogen sulfide-oxidizing bacteria)


  • also known as other-feeders or consumers
  • they can't make their own organic molecules so they have to get it by eating others like producers
  • there are many types of consumers: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary
  • Primary consumers: usually are herbivores and eats producers
  • Secondary consumers: usually are carnivores and eats primary consumers
  • Tertiary consumers: usually are carnivores and eats secondary consumers
  • Quaternary consumers: are at the top of the food chain and eats tertiary consumers. They are also known as apex predators

Food chains & food webs. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-biology/ap-ecology/modal/a/food-chains-food-webs