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Desert Producers and Consumers Video

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  • 0:00 What Are Producers And…
  • 0:52 Desert Ecosystem
  • 1:08 Producers In The Desert
  • 2:06 Consumers In The Desert
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lesson, we'll cover the definition of a producer and consumer in biology, and then give examples of specific producers and consumers in the desert region.

What Are Producers and Consumers?

Chances are, you see many examples of producing and consuming in everyday life. For instance, you might be writing, or producing, a paper for school. When you're finished with the assignment, you'll give it to a consumer, your teacher, to read. The same principle is true in biology. However, since biology is the study of life, it focuses on living products and those that consume them. In biology, producers are organisms that make their own food. These organisms are usually plant-based, but can also be algae or bacteria. Consumers are organisms that need to eat this food to survive. We usually think of consumers as animals, but fungi and bacteria can also be consumers. To understand how producers and consumers coexist in the desert, let's first learn a little bit about this region.

Desert Ecosystem

Deserts are areas of the globe that get very little rainfall. Although we usually think of deserts as hot and dry, they can be cold too. But let's look at an example of a hot and dry desert, the Sahara desert in Africa.

Producers In the Desert

Although life can seem scarce in the desert, producers do exist, providing food for the organisms adapted to the intense heat. Shrubs and short grasses produce leaves containing water that consumers feed on. Other producers, like the date palm, have a sweeter enticement. Dates, which are also farmed by humans, grow on these trees, providing a good source of sugar and water for desert animals.

Gourds are also an excellent source of water and food for consumers. They contain a thick, milky sap which is also used by indigenous people to treat snake bites. All of these plants are specially adapted to live in the desert. Some species have roots that extend over 100 feet to tap underground water sources.

Other organisms, like cacti, store water in large fleshy appendages. The African peyote cactus, has leaves that are shaped like spikes, which help keep predators away and prevent loss of water through evaporation.

Consumers In the Desert

There are three levels of consumers in the desert: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary consumers eat only producers. Camels are an iconic example of a desert-based primary consumer, feeding on grasses and low lying shrubs. They store water in their humps, for use in dry conditions. The slender-horned gazelle is another primary consumer. This grazing animal, which eats mostly grass, lives closer to water sources at the edge of the desert.

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