Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers in the Forest Community

By Taylor Seigler

A: Producers: Photosynthesizing organisms

Producers are any kind of green plant. Green plants make their food by taking sunlight and using the energy to make sugar. The plant uses this sugar, also called glucose to make many things, such as wood, leaves, roots, and bark. Trees, such as they mighty Oak, and the grand American Beech, are examples of producers.




White oak

Northern Red Oak


Post Oak

A picture of Oak tree seeds, known as acorns, which are food for deer, bears, and many other forest species.


A* American Beech

A picture of a beech nut from the American Beech.
Beech nuts are a very good form of hard mast,
which is another name for acorns and other hard seeds that
grow on trees.

B. Consumers: any organism that canít make its own food

Consumers have to feed on producers or other consumers to survive. Deer are herbivores, which means that they only eat plants (Producers). Bears are another example of consumers. Black bears are omnivores and scavengers, like skunks and raccoons, which means that they will eat just about anything. In a forest community, Black Bears will eat blueberries, bugs, acorns, and many kinds of nuts.


B* Black Bears are scavengers and will eat just about anything

White-tailed Deer are herbivores and only eat plant material

White-tailed Deer are herbivores and only eat plant material

C. Decomposers: An organism that primarily feeds on dead organisms or the waste from living organisms

Decomposers are the garbage men of the animal kingdom; they take all the dead animals and plants (consumers and decomposers) and break them down into their nutrient components so that plants can use them to make more food. Decomposers in the forest come in many different shapes and sizes. Shelf fungus is a fungus that grows on the sides of trees. It grows into the tree and decomposes it slowly. Have you ever been walking through the woods and come across a dead log that falls apart and is full of dirt? That is because decomposers have been eating and digesting that log for several years, turning it into dirt that is wonderful for plants.

Shelf Fungus with a knife for scale.†
Top and bottom fungus

C* Shelf Fungus with a knife for scale.  

Top and bottom

B* Goldsmith beetle

A*    Images Courtesy: Virginia Tech Dendrology

B*    Image Courtesy: Animal Diversity Web, at

C*    Images Courtesy: USDA Forest Service - Missoula Archives, USDA Forest Service,



  • What are consumers dependent on for survival?

  • What process is taking place as wood turns into dirt?

  • What is the energy source for producers?


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