Chameleons are a bizarre and colorful example of a heterotroph, an organism that consumes other pets or plants – like this unfortunate cricket – to sustain itself.

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Photograph by kuritafsheen


A heterotroph is an organism that eats other plants or animals for energy and also nutrients. The ax stems from the Greek native hetero because that “other” and trophe because that “nourishment.”

Organisms are characterized into two wide categories based upon exactly how they obtain their energy and also nutrients: autotrophs and heterotrophs. Autotrophs are recognized as producers due to the fact that they are able to make their own food from raw materials and energy. Examples encompass plants, algae, and some types of bacteria. Heterotrophs are known as consumers due to the fact that they consume producer or other consumers. Dogs, birds, fish, and humans room all examples of heterotrophs.

Heterotrophs occupy the 2nd and 3rd levels in a food chain, a succession of organisms that carry out energy and also nutrients for other organisms. Every food chain is composed of three trophic levels, which define an organism’s duty in an ecosystem. Occupying the first trophic level room autotrophs, such as plants and also algae. Herbivores—organisms the eat plants—occupy the 2nd level. Carnivores (organisms that eat meat) and also omnivores (organisms that eat plants and also meat) accounting the third level. Both major (herbivores) and secondary (carnivores and omnivores) consumers are heterotrophs, while major producers room autotrophs.

A third kind of heterotrophic consumer is a detritivore. These organisms obtain food by feeding ~ above the remains of plants and also animals as well as fecal matter. Detritivores play an important role in keeping a healthy and balanced ecosystem by recycling waste. Instances of detritivores encompass fungi, worms, and insects.

There are two subcategories the heterotrophs: photoheterotrophs and also chemoheterotrophs. Photoheterotrophs are organisms that gain their energy from light, but must still consume carbon from other organisms, as they cannot utilize carbon dioxide native the air. Chemoheterotrophs, by contrast, acquire both their energy and carbon from other organisms.

A major difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs is the the previous are able to make their own food by photosynthesis whereas the latter cannot. Photosynthesis is a process that entails making glucose (a sugar) and also oxygen from water and carbon dioxide using power from sunlight. Autotrophs room able to manufacture power from the sun, however heterotrophs need to rely on various other organisms because that energy.

Another major difference in between autotrophs and also heterotrophs is the autotrophs have an important pigment called chlorophyll, which enables them to catch the power of sunlight throughout photosynthesis, vice versa, heterotrophs perform not. Without this pigment, photosynthesis might not occur.

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Heterotrophs advantage from photosynthesis in a range of ways. They depend on the procedure for oxygen, i beg your pardon is produced as a byproduct during photosynthesis. Moreover, photosynthesis sustains the autotrophs the heterotrophs count on to survive. While meat-eating carnivores might not directly depend top top photosynthetic plants to survive, they do depend on other animals that consume photosynthesis plants together a food source.