Sun is the ultimate source of energy for all life on earth. The plants use this energy to make food. This energy is transferred when the plants get consumed by other organisms, and eventually, this energy makes its way up the food chain.
Predation is the inter-relationship between two organisms, a prey and a predator, where the energy flows from one organism to the other. The predator is the organism that feeds on other organisms, and the prey is the one that is eaten by the predator. The prey suffers a loss of energy and fitness, whereas, the predator is at gain.
Read on to explore what are predators and its types in detail.
What are Predators?
Predators are organisms that hunt and kill other organisms for food. The organisms that are consumed by the predators are known as the prey. Predators can be carnivores and omnivores. Lion, tiger, sharks, snakes, all are predators.
Predators can also fall prey to other large animals depending on where they fall in the food chain. For eg., a snake is a predator to a mouse, but prey to a hawk.
Also Read: Energy Flow in the Ecosystem
Types of Predators
Predators can fall under the following categories:
Carnivorous predators kill and eat their prey. They include large animals such as lion and tiger. Each carnivore has its own mode of feeding, from sea otters feeding on sea stars to blue whales feeding on zooplankton and small marine animals.
These include animals such as cows, buffaloes, goat, sheep, deer, that consume plants and plant products. This benefits the prey as well. For instance, the seeds of the fruits are dispersed by many herbivores as they move. These seeds germinate and eventually grow as a plant.
These predators live in the body of the host and derive nutrients from its body for survival and reproduction. In this, the host suffers a loss of energy but is not always killed.
Also read: Food Web
Predators adapt in the following ways in order to attack the prey:
- The predators use camouflage that helps them to hide from the prey so that they can make a sudden attack. This also prevents them from any dangerous defences a predator might have.
- Their mechanical adaptations such as sharp teeth, claws, thick skin and superior speed and strength help them to take over the prey.
- The chemical adaptations include venom, toxins and poison to kill the prey. They have also evolved chemical adaptations that protect them from the chemical defences of the prey. For eg., monarch butterflies feed on the milkweed plant that contains poison. They are evolved such that they are not affected by it.
Following are some of the examples of predators:
The large predators have special adaptations that help them to kill their prey with minimal damage to the. Polar bear, killer whales and great white sharks are some of the large predators found on earth.
The polar bear largely feeds on seals. The killer whales eat seals, sea lions, fish, etc. The great white sharks are the most dangerous ocean predator and feed on almost every organism.
Small predators do not cause mass destruction. For eg., sea stars feed largely on various types of shellfish. The ladybug is the smallest predator that feeds on plant-eating insects called aphids.
Other predators include lion, tiger, bear, wolf, leopard, dogs, snakes, crocodiles, etc.
Also Read: Carnivores And Herbivores
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