Is Coral a Producer, Consumer or Decomposer?
The coral reef itself is an ecosystem that has producers, consumers and decomposers; however, the coral polyps within the coral reef are known as primary consumers because they consume producers. The coral polyps create the coral reef's structure with algae and are living organisms.
Within a coral reef ecosystem, the producers are the sea weeds, the sea grasses and the plankton species. The primary consumers are the coral polyps, some mollusk species, the zooplankton species, the starfish, the crabs, the sea urchins, the green sea turtle and some smaller fish living in the coral reef system. The primary consumers feed on the producers. The secondary consumers are the butterfly fish, triggerfish, puffer fish, shrimp, other mollusk species and lobsters. Secondary consumers feed on primary consumers and sometimes feed on producers as well, reports Stanford University.
The tertiary consumers eat secondary consumers and can also sometimes eat primary consumers and producers. Within a coral reef ecosystem, the tertiary consumers are seals, barracudas, sea birds, dolphins, moray eels and sharks. Lastly, the decomposers help to break down the waste within the ecosystem. They help to dissolve dead organisms as well. By breaking down the waste, the decomposers are able to generate new energy that helps to sustain the ecosystem. All ecosystems are made up of these complex food chains with producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers and decomposers, reports National Geographic.