What Is a Quaternary Consumer?

A quaternary consumer is an animal that is at the top of the food chain. These animals mainly eat or prey on animals below them on the food chain, such as tertiary and secondary consumers.

Some examples of quaternary consumers are hawks and white sharks, which also are carnivores. While a hawk can eat snakes, a shark can eat seals. Seals and snakes are tertiary consumers.

In the food chain of an ecosystem, trophic levels or feeding positions exist, for example, primary producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers and quaternary consumers. While primary consumers are usually herbivores, secondary consumers can be either carnivores or omnivores.