Producers

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Producers are organisms which make their own food.  They convert sunlight into sugars through a chemical process called photosynthesis. Some producers, less commonly, use chemosynthesis to create energy from inorganic chemical reactions.


On land, producers include plants of all kinds such as trees, bushes, ferns, algae, vines and mosses. They gather energy from the sun and nutrients and minerals from the earth. At IslandWood, herbivores (or plant eaters) like deer, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and moles survive by eating plants. When a carnivore, like a coyote, eats one of these herbivores (a tasty rabbit perhaps), it is taking part in a food chain. Without energy-producing plants, animals (humans included!) could not exist.  


In the ocean, producers include algae and phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are tiny drifting plants. They turn sunlight into food energy for themselves (and ultimately all the living organisms which feed on them). One example of an oceanic food chain is:  Baleen whales eat krill (tiny shrimp); krill eat phytoplankton; and phytoplankton live on sunlight and oceanic minerals and nutrients. Phytoplankton don't live too far from IslandWood and may be collected in fine nets at Blakely Harbor. Bring a strong magnifying glass or microscope to see them!

Besides energy, plants also produce oxygen which all animals need to survive. When you break it down, life on Earth is primarily powered by the Sun, and plants use the Sun to produce our all of our energy and oxygen. The exceptions to this rule are organisms which survive off heat energy coming from the Earth's core (via chemosynthesis).


Commonly seen IslandWood producers include: Douglas-fir, Western red cedar, Big leaf maple, Sword fern, Stinging Nettle, and several varieties of blackberry and huckleberry. If it's green or has leaves, it is probably a producer!


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