What are Consumer – Resource Systems?

Hey there Defenders! Hopefully you've explored a bit of the Kids' Zone and know all about a food chain, and the different ways animals get their energy - don't worry, you can click the blue words and check out all that info right now! Here we are going to talk a little bit more in depth about those food chain webs, and the idea of the Consumer/Resource System, and how it works with animals.

The Consumer/Resource System is a big term that usually talks about the ways different animals and organisms interact, when one of them needs to consume to gain energy, and the other one has that energy they crave! At a basic level you can think of the Consumer/Resource system as the relationship between a predator, and prey - The predator is the consumer, and needs to catch and eat the prey so they can get that energy to keep living. The prey is the resource, because it has the energy that the consumer needs! Just as many animals can be a predator AND prey, there are many organisms that sometimes will be a consumer, while other times it's a resource. Let's take a rabbit for example - when the rabbit is hungry and needs energy to go on, it's a consumer. Usually it's looking for something leafy and tasty like some lettuce to get its energy, and in this case, the lettuce is the resource. But if there's a hungry hawk on watch, and it eats the rabbit, then the rabbit is the resource for the hawk to be a consumer!

This process can go all the way up the food chain, with the creatures at the very top usually being consumers most of the time, while organisms at the bottom are usually resources most of the time.

Some different ways the Consumer/Resource System can work are...

  • Predator / Prey relationship
  • Herbivore / Plant relationship
  • Parasite / Host relationship
  • Detritivore / Decomposing matter relationship


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