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Can a carnivorous animal consume plants with no adverse effects?


While I know that in nature, carnivorous animals are poorly suited to eat plants (largely due to having sharp teeth, not grinding teeth, as far as I know), I was wondering if, in an emergency situation such as imminent starvation, could a carnivorous animal such as a wolf survive solely on plant life, maybe requiring it to be ground up before hand? Could an herbivore survive on meat, if the meat was prepared in a manner that would allow the herbivore to eat it? Would a wild animal voluntarily consume food that it is not suited for if it would stave off certain death, or would it require force feeding or training?

Also, I am interested in the other side of this question: if an animal cannot safely consume food outside of its normal diet (carnivore eating plants, herbivores consuming meat), what negative effects would this action have on the animal?

Just a note, this is purely a hypothetical question, and I am only asking out of curiosity. I am in no way planning on doing this, nor do I advise anyone else doing this if there is a high chance of it harming the animal.


This is kind of a weird/trick question. How long do you want the animal to live? If the lifespan is shortened or compromised does that fit… Obligate carnivores (cats, dogs) do eat plant material. In the wild cats mainly eat grass to get rid of hairballs. Cats are more impacted by phytotoxins than dogs. However, both, are extremely vulnerable to compounds that don't bother humans (xanthines like theobromine, caffine, compounds in garlic, onions, broccoli, mushrooms). Cats can't convert plant fats into what they need (we can) as a result they can go blind if they don't get the animal fats they need. Likewise, herbivores will suffer increased cancer, heart disease, renal failure from diets with animal fats / protein. Your mention of "wolf" is interesting because there is a South American wolf that supplements its diet with a tomato relative (called something like "fruit for wolves" in Spanish). This is probably only "good" for it in that it keeps the wolf from otherwise starving. I don't know that it has a strong deleterious effect (probably not, but it could be more sensitive to trace alkaloids in the fruit) but it could hurt it in a minor way.


I think that the distinction between carnivores and herbivores contains a gray area with a spectrum of omnivores in-between. Bears are placed in the order of carnivores, but are definitely truly omnivores see link. However, if you give them a choice between a salmon and blueberries, it's quite clear what will be devoured first. That's why it's a carnivore. The answer by @Dan S clearly shows that not all creatures may be in the spectrum. For example, domestic cats are indeed quite carnivorous and would not touch plant material. On the other hand, now we are talking pets (the SE where this question apparently came from) - dogs are truly omnivores despite being categorized as carnivorous.


I'm pretty sure humans are herbivores, and we've been doing fine on meat. Not as fine as we could without meat. There are just extra illnesses to watch out for like what was listed above: heart disease, kidney failure, cancer, strokes. These illnesses could occur on a natural diet as well, so if there are already precautions in place for these things, the animal should still live a happy life (maybe cut short by some years).

Animals eating diets that aren't suited for them is not as rare as you might think. As I stated above, it seems likely that the natural diet for humans is (or at one point was) herbivorous. We have had several mutations over the years that have assisted us in being able to eat meat with less adverse effects: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303933704577533271378820202. So, admittedly, giving primates meat is probably worse than giving humans meat. But at one point humans were eating meat without those mutations, and the human race still managed to survive.

We also tend to feed domesticated carnivores, such as cats, grains. Cat genetics has not been studied as much as human genetics, so it is not certain whether cats have also evolved to better be able to handle a diet that is contradictory to their nature. However, either way, a species going against its natural diet seems to be able to sustain a reasonable, though perhaps not optimal, life.

The situation may be different if a species was subsisting solely on a diet that is contradictory to its nature. However, it has been done. There are reportedly human communities (such as possibly the Inuit) who survive or have survived on meat-only diets: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-04/fyi-what-would-happen-if-i-ate-nothing-meat. Many people who feed their cats a vegan diet, with supplemented vitamins, report that their cats live longer.

If giving an animal food that contradicts their biology, it is important to alter in some way. Humans face a high risk of contracting a food-borne illness if meat is not cooked properly, and grains in cat food are ground and mixed with the food. If giving an animal only food that contradicts their biology, the food should be supplemented. Cats can go blind without taurine, which is an amino acid that is created by animals and not plants. Humans on a meat-only diet could get scurvy from lack of vitamin C (if eating cooked meat) and constipation from lack of fiber.


Carnivore

A carnivore is an organism that eats mostly meat, or the flesh of animals. Sometimes carnivores are called predators.

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A carnivore is an organism that mostly eats meat, or the flesh of animals. Sometimes carnivores are called predators. Organisms that carnivores hunt are called prey.

Carnivores are a major part of the food web, a description of which organisms eat which other organisms in the wild. Organisms in the food web are grouped into trophic, or nutritional, levels. There are three trophic levels. Autotrophs, organisms that produce their own food, are the first trophic level. These include plants and algae. Herbivores, organisms that eat plants and other autotrophs, are the second trophic level. Carnivores are the third trophic level. Omnivores, creatures that consume a wide variety of organisms from plants to animals to fungi, are also the third trophic level.

Autotrophs are called producers, because they produce their own food. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are consumers. Herbivores are primary consumers. Carnivores and omnivores are secondary consumers.

Many carnivores eat herbivores. Some eat omnivores, and some eat other carnivores. Carnivores that consume other carnivores are called tertiary consumers. Killer whales, or orcas, are a classic example of tertiary consumers. Killer whales hunt seals and sea lions. Seals and sea lions are carnivores that consume fish, squid, and octopuses.

Some carnivores, called obligate carnivores, depend only on meat for survival. Their bodies cannot digest plants properly. Plants do not provide enough nutrients for obligate carnivores. All cats, from small house cats to huge tigers, are obligate carnivores.

Most carnivores are not obligate carnivores. A hypercarnivore is an organism that depends on animals for at least 70 percent of its diet. Plants, fungi, and other nutrients make up the rest of their food. All obligate carnivores, including cats, are hypercarnivores. Sea stars, which prey mostly on clams and oysters, are also hypercarnivores.

Mesocarnivores depend on animal meat for at least 50 percent of their diet. Foxes are mesocarnivores. They also eat fruits, vegetables, and fungi.

Hypocarnivores depend on animal meat for less than 30 percent of their diet. Most species of bears are hypocarnivores. They eat meat, fish, berries, nuts, and even the roots and bulbs of plants. Hypocarnivores such as bears are also considered omnivores.

The planet&rsquos largest animal is a carnivore. The blue whale can reach 30 meters (100 feet) long and weigh as much as 180 metric tons (200 tons). It feeds by taking huge gulps of water and then filtering out tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill. The blue whale can eat about 3.6 metric tons (4 tons) of krill every day&mdashthat&rsquos about 40 million of the little creatures. The largest land carnivore is the polar bear, which feeds mainly on seals.

Carnivores have biological adaptations that help them hunt. Carnivorous mammals such as wolves have strong jaws and long, sharp teeth that help them grab and rip apart their prey. Plant-eaters, on the other hand, usually have big molars that help them grind up leaves and grasses.

Lions, cougars, and other cats have sharp claws that they use to hunt. Birds such as hawks and owls also hunt with their claws, called talons. Many carnivorous birds, called raptors, have curved beaks that they use to tear apart their prey.

Many carnivores grab their prey in their mouths. Great blue herons wade slowly through shallow water and then suddenly snatch a fish, crab, or other creature from the water. Toads grab mice in their mouths. Sperm whales dive deep into the ocean where they bite hold of squid.

Spiders capture their prey&mdashusually insects&mdashby trapping them in a sticky web. Other carnivores attack their prey with a bite or a sting that injects toxic venom into the victim. The venom either paralyzes or kills the prey. Snakes such as king cobras have hollow fangs that act like needles to inject venom. Cobras mostly prey on other snakes. Jellyfish have stingers on their tentacles, which paralyze fish swimming nearby.

Most carnivores are animals, but plants and fungi can be carnivores also. The Venus flytrap is a plant that catches insects in its leaves. When an insect brushes against the sensitive hairs on the leaf, the leaf folds in two and snaps shut. The insect is trapped inside. Other carnivorous plants, such as the sundew, produce a sticky material that catches insects.

Fungi are a group of organisms that include mushrooms, molds, and mildew. Some fungi trap and consume tiny organisms. Most carnivorous fungi prey on microscopic worms called nematodes, which they trap with suffocating rings.

Certain types of carnivores have specific diets. Some, such as sea lions, eat mainly fish. They are called piscivores (piscis is the Latin word for fish).

Others, such as lizards, eat mainly insects. They are called insectivores. Many bats are also insectivores. One little brown bat can eat a thousand mosquitoes in an hour. Some insects are themselves insectivores. These include ladybugs, dragonflies, and praying mantises.

Carnivores that have been known to attack and eat human beings are known as man-eaters. Some species of sharks, alligators, and bears are called man-eaters. However, no carnivore specifically hunts human beings or relies on them as a regular food source.

Cannibals are carnivores that eat the meat of members of their own species. Many animals practice cannibalism. For some species, cannibalism is a way of eliminating competitors for food, mates, or other resources. Chimpanzees and bears, for example, will hunt and consume the young of family members, sometimes their own offspring. Praying mantis females will kill and eat the bodies of their mates.

Many carnivores are scavengers, creatures that eat the meat of dead animals, or carrion. Unlike other types of carnivores, scavengers usually do not hunt the animals they eat. Some, such as vultures, consume animals that have died from natural causes. Others, such as hyenas, will snatch meat hunted by other carnivores. Many insects, such as flies and beetles, are scavengers.

Some carnivores, including sea lions, feed often. Others, such as king cobras, can go months between meals.

Carnivores in the Food Chain

For a healthy ecosystem, it is important that the populations of autotrophs, herbivores, and carnivores be in balance. Energy from nutrients is lost at each trophic level. It takes many autotrophs to support a fewer number of herbivores. In turn, a single carnivore may have a home range of dozens or even hundreds of miles. A Siberian tiger, for instance, may patrol a range of 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles).

In some places, the disappearance of large carnivores has led to an overpopulation of herbivores, disrupting the ecosystem. Wolves and cougars are traditional predators of white-tailed deer, for instance. But hunting and development have eliminated these predators from the northeastern United States. Without natural predators, the population of white-tailed deer has skyrocketed. In some areas, there are so many deer that they cannot find enough food. They frequently stray into towns and suburbs in search of food.

Carnivores depend on herbivores and other animals to survive. Zebras and gazelles once traveled in great herds over the plains of Africa. But these herds have shrunk and are now mostly confined to parks and wildlife reserves. As the numbers of these herbivores decline, carnivores such as African wild dogs, which prey on them, also decline. Scientists estimate that only 3,000 to 5,500 African wild dogs remain in the wild.

Photograph by Rusty Smith, MyShot

Specialized Carnivores
Some carnivores specialize in hunting one type of organism.

  • Spongivores mostly eat sea sponges. Many types of sea turtles are spongivores.
  • Vermivores mostly eat worms. Birds such as snipes and kiwis are vermivores. They have long, narrow beaks for poking in the soil for worms.
  • Avivores mostly eat birds. Many predatory birds, such as hawks and falcons, are avivores. They prey on smaller birds.
  • Ovivores mostly eat eggs. Many snakes are ovivores.

(singular: alga) diverse group of aquatic organisms, the largest of which are seaweeds.

organism that can produce its own food and nutrients from chemicals in the atmosphere, usually through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.

organism that mostly eats birds.

physical change in an organism that results over time in reaction to its environment.

species of marine mammal that is the largest animal to have ever lived.

organism that eats the meat of members of its own species.

organism on the food chain that depends on autotrophs (producers) or other consumers for food, nutrition, and energy.

growth, or changing from one condition to another.

foods eaten by a specific group of people or other organisms.

to convert food into nutrients that can be absorbed.

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

long, sharp, protruding tooth. In many animals, fangs are hollow and used to inject venom.

to remove particles from a substance by passing the substance through a screen or other material that catches larger particles and lets the rest of the substance pass through.

group of organisms linked in order of the food they eat, from producers to consumers, and from prey, predators, scavengers, and decomposers.


What is a carnivorous animal?

As we said before, a carnivorous animal consumes animal tissue - flesh, bones, organs - in order to feed and gain energy. Depending on the kind of animals and kind of tissue they eat, carnivores can be classified into types that include the following:

  • Avivores: consume birds
  • Insectivores: consume insects
  • Hematophages: consume blood
  • Ovivores: consume eggs
  • Piscivores: consume fish
  • Vermivore: consume worms

Not all carnivores feed the same way. Carnivores are also classified into two types depending on how they obtain or find their food:

    Predators: a predatory animal hunts the prey it is going to consume. Most carnivorous animals kill their prey, but some carnivores, like mosquitoes, are grazers. While it seems logical that predators are usually bigger than their prey, some carnivores like lions, wolves, piranhas and ants are social predators that team up to bring down larger animals.


Cholinergic Drugs

The involvement of acetylcholine in diseases of the nervous system has naturally made the cholinergic system a target for therapeutic purposes. Drugs that activate (agonists) or inactivate (antagonists) acetylcholine receptors, as well as drugs that modulate cholinergic activity by facilitating or preventing the production, release or degradation of acetylcholine, have been developed with the aim to treat several neuropsychiatric conditions.

Agonists

Acetylcholine has a very short life: it does not last long in the bloodstream because it is degraded very fast. Therefore, acetylcholine itself is not used as a drug, but instead similar compounds that activate acetylcholine receptors are employed to activate them. These similar compounds that bind to and activate acetylcholine receptors are known as acetylcholine agonists.

An example of an agonist is pilocarpine, which activates muscarinic receptors and is usually applied in the pupil of the eye to treat a neurodegenerative disease that causes blindness called glaucoma. Another example of an agonist is nicotine, found in tobacco.

Antagonists

Many cholinergic drugs are acetylcholine receptor antagonists, which block acetylcholine receptors. Some antagonists are atropine, scopolamine, hexamethonium and trimethaphan. Atropine and scopolamine inactivate muscarinic receptors and are used to suppress bodily secretions (e.g. tears or mucus) and to relax smooth muscle (e.g. muscles in the gastrointestinal tract) during anesthesia, and to treat motion sickness. Hexamethonium and trimethaphan block nicotinic receptors and are used to reduce high blood pressure. Other agents that block nicotinic receptors are used because of their effects at the neuromuscular junction these agents prevent skeletal muscles from contracting and are often employed during surgery to keep patients from making involuntary movements.

Other Drugs

In addition to cholinergic agonists and antagonists, other drugs can modulate acetylcholine activity by increasing or decreasing its production, release or degradation. For instance, inactivating acetylcholine transferase, which is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, is employed to increase the levels of acetylcholine and to treat myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder. Similar drugs such as neostigmine and pyridostigmine do not cross the blood-brain barrier and are consequently employed to exert their effect at the neuromuscular junction and contract skeletal muscle.

Nonetheless, anticholinergics—drugs that reduce or block the effects of acetylcholine—are more widely used to treat numerous conditions. Some of these are involuntary movements, gastrointestinal disorders, incontinence and Parkinson’s disease. Another compound that blocks the release of acetylcholine is botulinum toxin—an agent produced by a type of bacterium—which paralyzes the skeletal muscle so that the organism is no longer able to move and which can even cause death. When applied locally, botulinum toxin relaxes muscles and is consequently utilized to treat severe muscle spasms. The same compound is used to reduce wrinkles by relaxing the muscles and skin we know this under the trade name Botox.


Carnivores, Omnivores, and Herbivores: Their Differences and Roles in the Food Chain

Animals of all sorts live together in various ecosystems. Within these natural communities, the animals eat specific diets that connect them together in a food chain. The three diets of animals include creatures that eat only plants, those that eat only meat, and animals that eat both plants and meat. Animals that eat plants exclusively are herbivores, and animals that eat only meat are carnivores. When animals eat both plants and meat, they are called omnivores. The balance of an ecosystem depends on the presence of every type of animal. If one type of animal becomes too numerous or scarce, the entire balance of the ecosystem will change.

Carnivores will feed on herbivores, omnivores, and other carnivores in an ecosystem. A natural community depends on the presence of carnivores to control the populations of other animals. Large carnivores include wolves and mountain lions. A large carnivore might hunt down large herbivores such as elk and deer. Medium-sized carnivores include hawks and snakes, and these animals typically feed on rodents, birds, eggs, frogs, and insects. Examples of small carnivores include some smaller birds and toads. These carnivores may eat insects and worms. Carnivorous animals have strong jaws and sharp teeth to enable them to tear and rip prey. These animals often have long, sharp claws that they also use to tear prey. Carnivores depend on sufficient prey in the food chain to give them the food they need. If the herbivore population or the population of other carnivores declines in an ecosystem, carnivores may not survive.

With a diet comprised of only plants, herbivores can be surprisingly large animals. Examples of large herbivores include cows, elk, and buffalo. These animals eat grass, tree bark, aquatic vegetation, and shrubby growth. Herbivores can also be medium-sized animals such as sheep and goats, which eat shrubby vegetation and grasses. Small herbivores include rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and mice. These animals eat grass, shrubs, seeds, and nuts. An ecosystem must provide abundant plants to sustain herbivores, and many of them spend the majority of their lives eating to stay alive. If plant availability declines, herbivores may not have enough to eat. This could cause a decline in herbivore numbers, which would also impact carnivores. Herbivores usually have special biological systems to digest a variety of different plants. Their teeth also have special designs that enable them to rip off the plants and then grind them up with flat molars.

Omnivores have an advantage in an ecosystem because their diet is the most diverse. These animals can vary their diet depending on the food that is most plentiful, sometimes eating plants and other times eating meat. Herbivores have different digestive systems than omnivores, so omnivores usually cannot eat all of the plants that an herbivore can. Generally, omnivores eat fruits and vegetables freely, but they can’t eat grasses and some grains due to digestive limitations. Omnivores will also hunt both carnivores and herbivores for meat, including small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Large omnivores include bears and humans. Examples of medium-sized omnivores include raccoons and pigs. Small omnivores include some fish and insects such as flies. Omnivore teeth often resemble carnivore teeth because of the need for tearing meat. Omnivores also have flat molars for grinding up food.


Biology Unit 5

populations are made up of individuals that grow exponentially but limiting factors cause them to grow logistically.

What comes to mind when you think of the environment? Maybe a thick, green jumble of tropical rain forest? A grassy meadow with a cool stream running through it? Or maybe a coral reef teeming with fish, sea turtles, and countless other forms of marine life? The organisms in each of those environments interact in many different ways.

The biosphere Opens in modal popup window is the largest level of organization. Nested within it are five additional levels. Each level is influenced by the interactions of components in the levels above and below it. Ultimately, all living and nonliving things at all levels of the biosphere are connected.

A population Opens in modal popup window is a group of the same species of individuals living in the same area and interacting with each other in some way. Populations of the same species may be separated by geography. For example, the penguins living in one area of Antarctica make up a different population from the penguins living in another area of Antarctica.

The organisms living in and around a pond make up a community. A community Opens in modal popup window is an ecological level made up of populations of different species that live in a specific location.

Look again at a pond community. It is made up of populations of different species. When looking at this pond as an ecosystem, you also have to take into account the quality of the water in the pond, the average weather conditions, the amount of sunlight that reaches both the top and the bottom of the pond, and so forth.

For example, a population of 2 cells of algae becomes a population of 4 when those 2 cells divide. A population of 600 cells of algae becomes a population of 1,200 after all individuals divide once. Plotted on a graph, you can see how those populations change very quickly.

The carrying capacity Opens in modal popup window is the largest population that a given ecosystem can support at any time. It is determined by the availability of resources such as food and water and the presence of predators. Those factors are called limiting factors because they limit the potential for a population to grow exponentially.

Many insect populations, for example, grow exponentially during the summer, but their numbers decrease significantly as cold weather sets in. Factors such as climate, temperature, and weather are not dependent on the size of population, as they can affect populations of any size.

Turn to page 190-191 of your reference book to read more about patterns of population growth.

endangered species
Many K-strategy animals, such as rhinos, whales, and cheetahs, are endangered. Why do you think that might be?

Elephants and whales represent a type of life history called a K-strategy. Organisms that follow a K-strategy have only a few offspring, don't reproduce until later in life, and tend to have long life spans.

Pond Community
Underwater plants
Some plants, such as Canadian pondweed and quillwort, live completely underwater. Because ponds are shallow, many underwater plants can grow in the fertile silt of the pond bottom and still receive enough sunlight to thrive.

Cattails and reeds
Growing near a pond's edge, cattails and reeds send their roots into the muddy bottom and stick their leaves up above the water's surface. Waterfowl often build nests in the thick stands they form.

Dragonflies
Dragonflies are members of the order Odonta, which includes only one other insect—the damselfly. Dragonflies are highly skilled predators. Their huge eyes enable them to detect the slightest movement. They catch flying insects in mid-air, seizing them with their strong legs.

Snails
Pond snails wander slowly up and down the stalks of underwater plants and the underside of lily pads. Most snails are herbivores and feed on plant parts. Their predators include fish, large beetles, and caterpillars. Like frogs, snails are sensitive to changes in the environment, and many species have gone extinct in recent years.

Snapping turtles
One of the largest turtles in North America, snapping turtles are distinguished by the sawtooth structure on top of their shell. Unlike most other turtles, they cannot retreat into their shell. Snapping turtles eat pond animals as well as plants, algae, and even birds when they can catch them.

Fish
One typical pond fish is the minnow—the common name for members of family Cyprinidae, the largest family of freshwater fish in North America. Minnows are extremely adaptable and thrive in many different habitats. A single small pond might be home to half a dozen minnow species. Ponds also support stickleback, another small fish that can live in a variety of watery environments.

Mint
Mink are members of the largest family in the order Carnivora—Mustelidae, which includes weasels, skunks, otters, badgers, and other similar small mammals. Mink are about the size of a house cat, and they eat just about any animal they can find, including fish, mice, frogs, snakes, birds, and bird eggs.

Duckweed
Duckweed is an aquatic plant that is not anchored in soil. The plant floats on the water's surface, and its roots dangle down in the water, balancing the plant and soaking up nutrients. A large population of duckweed can create a shimmering green carpet across the surface of a small pond.

Water lillies
With their roots sunk into the pond bottom, water lilies send their leaves up to the surface. The large, rounded leaves of water lilies unroll when they reach the top of the water. The leaves are smooth and waxy, so they float. The flowers also float, and when it rains, they close up to keep from sinking.

Water striders
Water striders are insects that live in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers and streams. They glide over the surface of the water, staying suspended with the help of hairs that cover the underside of their body. Water striders eat any tiny creature they can catch, including insects, tadpoles, and small fish.

Backswimmers
These insects got their name because they swim on their back. Backswimmers—also called water boatmen—have a pointed beak instead of jaws. They swim underwater and use their beak to stab at tiny surface organisms from below.

Frogs
Frogs are amphibians. Young frogs, called tadpoles, breathe through gills, but as they mature, they lose their gills and develop lungs. Frogs eat insects and small invertebrates, and their predators include wading birds, large fish, and carnivorous mammals. Frogs are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment, and their populations have declined significantly since the 1950s, with some species going extinct.

Water shrews
Tiny water shrews subsist mainly on aquatic insects and small invertebrates such as worms and slugs. When shrews dive underwater in search of food, air bubbles trapped in their fur help them rise back quickly to the surface. Their predators include mink, weasels, and even large fish such as bass and trout.

Wading birds
Wading birds such as herons, cranes, egrets, and bitterns live in wetland habitats. Moving silently through the shallows on stalk-like legs, they catch unsuspecting fish with their long bill. Many wading birds also eat mice, frogs, and toads. Some birds build their nests in groups in trees near the water others build in reeds along the bank.


Contents

Within an ecological food chain, Consumers are categorized into primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers. [3] Primary consumers are herbivores, feeding on plants. Caterpillars, insects, grasshoppers, termites and hummingbirds are all examples of primary consumers because they only eat autotrophs (plants). There are certain primary consumers that are called specialists because they only eat one type of producers. An example of this would be the koala because it feeds only on eucalyptus leaves. Primary consumers who feed on many kinds of plants are called generalists. Secondary consumers, on the other hand, are carnivores, and prey on other animals. Omnivores, who feed on both plants and animals, can also be considered as secondary consumer. Tertiary consumers, sometimes also known as apex predators, are usually at the top of food chains, capable of feeding on secondary consumers and primary consumers. Tertiary consumers can be either fully carnivorous or omnivorous. Humans are an example of a tertiary consumer. Secondary and tertiary consumers both must hunt for their food so they are referred to as predators. [4]

One must learn the importance of the ecosystem in order to understand how the food from one organism is transferred over to the next. By this it makes it easier to understand why being balanced throughout the ecosystem is a big deal and how to help improve if needed. [5] Consumers have important roles to play within an ecosystem such as balancing the food chain by keeping plant populations at a reasonable number. Without proper balance, an ecosystem can collapse and cause the decline of all affected species. This will lead to a severely disrupted ecosystem and a nonfunctional consumer web. In addition to that there will be a change in climate which can also worsen the ecosystem and affect the air quality and water. [6]


Carnivore Diet FAQs

Can the carnivore diet cause constipation?

Yes, the carnivore diet can cause constipation, but diarrhea is actually the more common digestive issue. Also, what many people suspect to be carnivore diet constipation is in most cases actually just fewer bowel movements.

This is because most of the meat is actually absorbed with less waste product being left over.

Can I experience digestive problems with the Carnivore diet?

Yes, you can experience digestive problems with the carnivore diet.
The most common issue is diarrhea as your body adapts to processing a lot more fat. Some supplements can help with this, and it will pass within a few weeks.

Can the carnivore diet increase cholesterol levels?

Yes, the carnivore diet can increase cholesterol levels, but it’s important to look at which types actually increase.

Some tests have shown that a meat only diet will actually lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good to end up with a much more positive ratio.

Will overeating meat cause kidney problems?

No, eating too much unprocessed meat will not cause kidney problems. It’s generally the processed meats that are very high in preservatives like salt, and excessive amounts of salt can cause kidney issues as they struggle to flush the excess out.

However, processed meats are not recommended on the carnivore diet.


Examples of Trophic Level

Primary Producers

Primary producers, or ”autotrophs”, are organisms that produce biomass from inorganic compounds. In general, these are photosynthesizing organisms such as plants or algae, which convert energy from the sun, using carbon dioxide and water, into glucose. This glucose is then stored within the plant as energy, and oxygen, which is released into the atmosphere.

In terrestrial ecosystems, almost all of the primary production comes from vascular plants such as trees, ferns, and flowering plants. In marine ecosystems, algae and seaweed fill the role of primary production.

There are also some deep-sea primary producers that perform oxidization of chemical inorganic compounds instead of using photosynthesis these organisms are called ”chemoautotrophs”.

Primary Consumers

Primary consumers are herbivores, that is, animals that are adapted to consuming and digesting plants and algae (autotrophs). Herbivores are generally split into two categories: grazers, such as cows, sheep and rabbits, whose diets consist at least 90% of grass, and browsers, such as deer and goats, whose diets consist at least 90% of tree leaves or twigs.

Primary consumers may also consume other forms of plant material. Many bats, birds and monkeys eat fruit (frugivores) birds, insects, bats and arachnids (spiders) eat nectar (nectarivores) and termites and beetles eat wood (xylophages).

In marine ecosystems, primary consumers are zooplankton, tiny crustaceans which feed off photosynthesizing algae known as phytoplankton.

Secondary Consumers

Secondary consumers, at trophic level three, are carnivores and omnivores, which obtain at least part of their nutrients from the tissue of herbivores. This includes animals and carnivorous plants that feed on herbivorous insects (insectivores).

Secondary consumers are usually small animals, fish and birds such as frogs, weasels, and snakes, although larger apex predators, such as lions and eagles, may consume herbivores, and can also exist within the second trophic level of an ecosystem.

In marine ecosystems, all species that consume zooplankton are secondary consumers this ranges from jellyfish to small fish such as sardines and larger crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as whales, which filter feed, and basking sharks.

Tertiary Consumers

Tertiary consumers acquire energy by eating other carnivores but may be preyed upon. Owls are an example of tertiary consumers although they feed off mice and other herbivores, they also eat secondary consumers such as stoats. In turn, owls may be hunted by eagles and hawks, and are therefore not apex predators.

Apex Predators

Apex predators are organisms at the top of the food chain, and which do not have any natural predators. Eagles, wolves, large cats such as lions, jaguars and cheetahs, and marine animals such as sharks, tuna, killer whales and dolphins are all examples of apex predators, although there are many more. Apex predators often have specific adaptions, which make them highly efficient hunters, such as sharp teeth and claws, speed and agility and stealth sometimes they work within groups, enhancing the success of their hunting abilities. However, not all apex predators are vicious hunters. Whale sharks are large filter feeders, consuming only small fish and plankton, although because they have no natural predators, they are apex predators in their environment.

Apex predators play an extremely important role in an ecosystem through predation they control populations of the lower trophic levels. If apex predators are removed from an ecosystem, organisms such as grazing herbivores can over-populate, therefore placing intense grazing and browsing pressure on the plants within a habitat. If there are fewer available plant resources, other organisms that depend on the plants (although are not hunted by the apex predator), such as insects and small mammals, will suffer population declines, and in turn can affect all trophic levels within an ecosystem. This disturbance is called a top-down trophic cascade, and can lead to ecosystem collapse.


Here's how plants became meat eaters

About 70 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a genetic anomaly allowed some plants to turn into meat eaters. This was done in part, with a stealthy trick: repurposing genes meant for their roots and leaves and using them instead to catch prey, a new study finds.

This step is one of three that some non-carnivorous plants took over tens of millions of years to allow them to turn into hungry carnivores, the researchers said.

The meat-eating shift gave these plants a number of advantages. In effect, "carnivorous plants have turned the tables by capturing and consuming nutrient-rich animal prey, enabling them to thrive in nutrient-poor soil," the researchers wrote in the study, published online May 14 in the journal Current Biology.

To investigate how carnivorous plants evolved, an international team of botanists and biologists led by Jörg Schultz, Associate Professor, at the University of Würzburg, Germany, compared the genomes and anatomy of three modern meat-eating plants

There are hundreds of carnivorous plant species, but the researchers chose to look at three related insect-eating plants, all members of the Droseraceae family. All three of these plants use motion to capture prey, the researchers said.

One plant is the familiar Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), a native to the wetlands of the Carolinas that has influenced Pokémon characters, made appearances in various Saturday morning cartoons, and even inspired a Broadway play. The closely related aquatic waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) occupies the waters of almost every continent. It has spindly underwater flaps that quickly tighten around unsuspecting marine animals. The third plant investigated, the beautiful but deadly sundew plant (Drosera spatulata), is common in Australia. Luring victims with sweetness, the sundew rolls up a sticky strip around its catch.

After analyzing these plants, the team discovered the three-step process toward carnivory. First, about 70 million years ago, an early non-carnivorous ancestor of the three modern plant carnivores underwent a whole-genome duplication, generating a second copy of its entire DNA, or genome. This duplication freed up one of the copies of leaf and root genes to diversify, allowing them to serve other functions. Some leaf genes developed into genes for traps, while carnivorous nutrition and absorption processes were guided by genes that otherwise would have served roots seeking nutrition from soil.

The second step in their journey to carnivory occurred once the plants began receiving new nutrients from prey. At that point, traditional leaves and roots were no longer as necessary. Many genes that were not involved in carnivorous nutrition began to disappear. For instance, seedlings of aquatic waterwheel plants acquire an early proto-root, but it fails to develop as they mature. This is the only remnant of what once was a root system. As a result of losing this gene and others, the three plants observed in this study are the gene-poorest plants to be sequenced to date, the researchers stated.

Two earlier studies by other groups of scientists in 2013 showed similar gene-poor findings in other carnivorous plants. They found that an aquatic bladderwort thriving on all continents but Antarctica and a corkscrew ground-covering plant native to Brazil both had very small genomes compared with non-carnivorous plants. These carnivores may also have undergone the same gene-shedding process, the researchers of the new study said.

In the third step of the transformation to carnivory, the plants underwent evolutionary changes specific to their environment. The roots and leaves evolved to be trap-specific, the researchers found. Genes for roots that were once used to seek out and absorb nutrients from soil were now commandeered to create enzymes needed to digest and absorb nutrients from prey. Genes once used in glands that secreted nectar to attract pollinating insects were summoned to traps, where they produce substances to attract prey.

Most plants with leaves and roots contain the material necessary to become carnivorous. Researchers wrote that the three-step process revealed by the new study shows how, over time, ancient "non-carnivorous plants evolved into the most skillful green hunters on the planet."


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