Power of Plants: Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers
In the Power of Plants Study I have covered the topics of trees and seeds. In this lesson blog I will cover the most important topic: How all organisms survive. The funny thing is everything plays an important role: either depending or helping one another survive.
All food chains begin with energy. This energy comes from the sun. The sun's energy cycles from producers to consumers to decomposers. Then it begins again. It's nature's recycling system!
Producers are green plants. They receive energy from the sun. Through the process of photosynthesis plants make food or glucose from carbon dioxide and water. The greatest amount of energy in an ecosystem is found in its producers.
Consumers do not make their own food, but rather rely on others organisms to have energy. There are two types of consumers. Primary Consumers are animals who eat plants. The Secondary Consumers are animals that eat other animals.
Decomposers break down organic matter (fallen leaves, branches, and animal waste) to make soil fertile and rich with nutrients. They are living things that get energy by eating dead animals and plants and breaking down wastes of other animals. They perform a valuable service as Earth’s cleanup crew.
Within a community, organisms are dependent on the survival of other organisms. If there were no decomposers...the nutrients within the waste and dead organisms would not be released back into the ecosystem.
Producers would not have enough nutrients.
Consumers that eat plants would not exist.
Consumers that eat animals would not exist.
Essentially, we are all connected!
What are the decomposers?
The F.B.I! Fungi (Mushrooms), Bacteria, and Invertebrates (Worms, Insects)
Listen to the Banana Slug String Band sing their song "FBI"
Most decomposers are microscopic organisms, including protozoa and bacteria. However you can find the other two types of decomposers in many places. Go on a Decomposer Scavenger Hunt around your house or park. Look for different decomposers. Ants, worms, millipedes, earthworms, termites, and even Mushrooms!
I recommend downloading a Mushroom Identification App. Once you identify a mushroom to be safe, DIG it out from the soil - DON'T PULL MUSHROOMS OUT! This way you can remove the entire fungi without damaging it. Mushrooms are the fruiting part of a hidden organism called a mycelium. The mycelium is a weblike structure that grows underground or inside the pores of decaying wood, and it can grow very large. A mycelium that grows in the Blue Mountains in Oregon measures 2.4 miles across and is arguably the largest living organism on Earth.
Mushrooms with white gills are often poisonous. So are those with a ring around the stem and those with a volva. Because the volva is often underground, it's important to dig around the base of a mushroom to look for it.
According to https://sciencing.com/identify-poisonous-mushrooms-2057768.html
- Don’t pick mushrooms with white gills, a skirt or ring on the stalk or a sack-like base known as a volva at the bottom of the stem. While some edible mushrooms do have these features, there are deadly versions, like the mushrooms in the Amanita family, that can result in death.
- Avoid mushrooms that have red stalks or caps. Again, there are edible versions of mushrooms with these features, but there are also very poisonous ones.
- Never eat a mushroom you're not 100 percent certain that is safe to eat. If you have questions about its safety after checking the mushroom against pictures in books or online, don’t eat it.
Next remove the cap and with gill side down brush with the top with water or lightly spritz it with a spray bottle.
In at least 2 hours remove the cap from the paper and see a print reveal itself. The results are stunning! With sturdier caps try using them as a stamp and add ink to the gill side. A white spore print is a telltale sign of an Amanita species, which can be lethal.
These prints make for a unique card or picture. Check out my Spore Prints.
Thank you for reading this Science Lesson Blog written by certified educator of Philanthrolab Science Shop Ms. Stacey The Science Lady. With over 12 years of teaching experience and creative Science curriculum development, her mission is to inspire children to have a love of Science. She is the owner of Philanthrolab Science Shop. An online shop of 50+ Fun & Affordable Science Toys - ALL $10 or LESS! Featuring The At Home Play Pak, Satchel of Science, and The DIY Sci Kit!
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Listen to the next read aloud, Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate on Tuesday!
Catch me live Thursday as I talk about Pollinators!
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The Lesson Blogs and Infographic get posted on Fridays.