Posted: November 14th, 2022

Main Trophic Categories that make up the Biotic Structure

Main Trophic Categories that make up the Biotic Structure of Every Ecosystem
The biotic structure refers to a description of how organisms interact in an ecosystem. Part of this structure is the food chain which refers to nutritional relationships between and among organisms in a hierarchical order. Each level of the hierarchical order in a food chain is referred to as a trophic level.
Science has identified three main trophic categories that make up the biotic structure of every ecosystem. These include the autotrophs which are also referred to as producers, heterotrophs which are also referred to as consumers, and saprotrophs which are also referred to as decomposers.
Autotrophs are called producers simply because they are able to produce their own food from simple abiotic substances. By definition, autotrophs refer to all the biotic (living) organisms that can produce their own food from abiotic substances that are readily available in the environment, mainly using sunlight and chemical energy. The synthesis process that uses sunlight is referred to as photosynthesis while the synthesis process that utilizes chemical energy is referred to as chemosynthesis. Plants such as trees generally fall into autotrophs category. However, it is important to note that here will be plants such as Venus flytrap that partly derive their nutrients from animals.
The second trophic category is the heterotrophic level or the consumers. Consumers, as the term suggests, do not synthesize or produce their own food. Instead, heterotrophs or consumers depend on other organisms for nutrition. This category generally includes all organisms in Kingdom Animalia. However, within this trophic level there are different levels of consumers that include primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers. Grass is a producer. A mouse feed on grass hence becoming a primary consumer. A snake feeds on the mouse thus becoming a secondary consumer. Then, an eagle feeds on the snake thereby becoming the tertiary consumer. Notably, this simplified worded food chain is a demonstration of the interdependencies among the organisms for nutrition.
The last main trophic category is the saprotrophic or decomposers. Decomposers feed on dead or decaying matter that includes dead plants and animals. In fact, the decomposers aid the decaying process by breaking down the decaying matter. This category include organisms such as mushrooms that grow on the trunks of dead trees in forests.
It is important to note that while the three main trophic categories appear to have clear-cut boundaries, specifies trophic levels reveal the complexities in the food chain interdependencies. For instance, there are living organisms that feed on both plants and animals and thus they would be at different trophic levels from those organisms that feed on plants alone.

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