Tertiary Consumer Definition

A tertiary customer is an pet that obtains its nutrition by eating primary consumers and also secondary consumers. Usually tertiary consumers are carnivorous predators, although they may likewise be omnivores, which are pets that feed on both meat and also plant material.

You are watching: What is an example of a tertiary consumer

Function of Tertiary Consumers

Within any type of ecosystem, the power that is current within its organisms is passed with a food chain or food web. Each organism in a food chain occupies a details position dubbed a trophic level, by which pets consume various other animals in reduced trophic levels and are eaten by those in better trophic levels.

Tertiary consumers frequently occupy the optimal trophic level, and also so are predated by no various other animals; in this case they are called “apex predators”. However before, as soon as they die their bodies will certainly be consumed by scavengers and also decomposers.

Sometimes in a food chain tbelow is an apex predator over the tertiary consumer. However, power is provided up and also is shed as warmth as it is moved with each of the trophic levels, which results in a low availcapacity of power in the better levels (this can be regarded as an energy pyramid). It is therefore widespread to only have actually 4 trophic levels, and also for the tertiary customer to host the eco-friendly function of the apex predator.

Ecological Pyramid

Species in the greatest trophic levels play an extremely essential role in ecounits. They regulate populaces or alter the behaviour of pets in reduced trophic levels. Animals in lower trophic levels might be carnivores, herbivores or omnivores, and also when their populations are limited it relieves either predation or grazing press on the trophic levels below them. This keeps ecosystem dynamics in balance. For example, if a populace of foxes becomes too big it could put push on rabbit populaces. By predating the foxes, a tertiary customer, such as a hawk, keeps the populations in examine and reduces the amount of rabbits that are consumed by the foxes. This is called a trophic cascade.

The image mirrors an example of a trophic cascade. When the predator is present the deer populace is controlled, yet, if predators are rerelocated deer populations flourish and also this have the right to influence the vegetation of an ecomechanism.

Examples of Tertiary Consumers

Big Cats

All big cats, such as tigers, lions, pumas and jaguars are tertiary consumers. They are likewise all apex predators, definition they have actually no predators in their organic environment—an exemption to this is the leopard, which is periodically predated by lions and also tigers, with which they share habitats.

The physical features of the massive cats are typical of apex predators. They have big teeth, jaws and also claws; they have forward facing eyes for tracking prey; they also have strong muscles and also deserve to frequently run at excellent speed.

Big cats consume prey from all trophic levels beneath them. This includes herbivores that live in herds such as buffalo, zebras and wildebeest, and secondary consumers such as foxes and hyenas. They also sometimes consume big animals such as crocodiles once on land, although as soon as in the water, the crocodiles—which are also tertiary consumers—have an advantage, and the huge cats can end up being fragile to strike.

Marine Tertiary Consumers

There are many type of examples of tertiary consumers in marine ecosystems. The primary producers of the oceans, phytoplankton, are primarily consumed by microscopic organisms referred to as zooplankton, and also so the countless animals that feed on the zooplankton are second consumers. Fish, jellyfish and also crustaceans are prevalent additional consumers, although basking sharks and some whales also feed on the zooplankton.

Phytoplankton are incredibly numerous, and also supply ecodevices via a vast amount of biomass and therefore carry out numerous power within the trophic pyramid. Due to the fact that there is such a large amount of obtainable energy, the secondary consumers (fish etc.) are likewise numerous and also many type of pets feed on them.

Tertiary consumers in marine atmospheres encompass larger fish such as tuna, barracuda and also groupers, seals and sea lions, jellyfish, dolphins, moray eels, turtles, sharks and also whales—some of which are apex predators, such as the great white or tiger sharks and also orca whales. Furthermore, many type of seabirds such as gulls, shearwaters and penguins are tertiary consumers.

The image reflects a simplified instance of a food chain in a terrestrial (left) and also a marine setting (marine).

In freshwater atmospheres, predatory fish, such as pike, consume smaller fish as well as other additional consumers such as frogs, snakes, birds and little mammals.


Humans are omnivorous, definition they eat both plant and also pet products. They also have a extensively varied diet and also so consume foods items from eextremely trophic level, consisting of decomposers such as mushrooms!

If a perchild chooses to be a vegetarian or vegan, they would be classed as a primary customer as they just eat plant material. By eating foods items such as grain-fed chicken, a person would fill the duty of secondary customer, however, if that chicken is also able to eat insects the person is a tertiary consumer.

Humans are often believed of as apex predators, because they have actually gained the capacity to kill any kind of animal making use of weapons etc. However before, if you took away a person’s gun and put them confront to face with a lion…who perform you think would be eaten?

Related Biology Terms

Main Consumers – Heterotrophic organisms additionally recognized as herbivores, which get nutrition from consuming major producers. Energy Pyramid – The graphical representation of the circulation of power through the trophic levels of an ecosystem. Trophic Cascade – The top-down impact that predators have on populations of prey within an ecosystem.


1. Which of the adhering to describes a tertiary consumer? A. An animal that eats other carnivorous or omnivorous animals B. An herbivorous pet C. A fast animal D. An pet in the 3rd trophic level

A is correct. Tertiary consumers eat additional consumers—animals that consume various other animals. Both the additional and tertiary consumers might be carnivorous or omnivorous.

2. Which of the following is an instance of a tertiary consumer? A. Mouse B. Tarantula C. Hawk D. Toad

C is correct. Hawks feed on many type of different animals, including carnivorous pets such as snakes, lizards and also sometimes foxes or other bigger predators.

3. Which of the adhering to is not a typical function of an apex predator? A. Sharp cregulations B. Strong muscles C. Thick fur D.

See more: What Does T Stand For In T Shirt, What Does T


C is correct. Although apex predators such as polar bears have actually thick fur, there are many type of examples without, such as killer whales, snakes and also eagles. Apex predators have the adaptions for catching and killing prey such as rate, stamina and sharp clegislations or teeth.