Heterotroph Definition:
All Consumers Are Heterotrophs  

Heterotroph means “one that eats others for energy”.  The prefix “hetero” means “others”. The suffix “troph” means “food”.  Together, the word heterotroph carries the meaning of “depending on others for food”.


20160526b heterotroph definition
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Therefore, all consumers are heterotrophs because consumers depend on other organisms for energy.  For example, a deer that eats grass is a consumer because grass is considered an organism as well.  A tiger that eats the deer is also a consumer.

Decomposers are another example of heterotrophs.   Decomposers get their energy by eating  waste materials such as feces, rotten wood…etc.  Because they do not kill and eat anyone, they do not count as consumers.  However, they are still considered as heterotrophs because they do not make their own food but depend on others for food in some ways.

An organism is either an autotroph (one who makes its own food) or a heterotroph (one who depends on others for food).

Next Generation Science Standards:

HS-LS2-4  Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem..

HS-LS2-5  Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.

What Science Does this Comic Teach?

Unit: Anatomy

⇒Chapter: Immunology

⇒Topic: Heterotroph Definition

Additional Information


Any organism that eats other organisms for energy is called a consumer.


They are a type of heterotrophs that live off waste materials.  Because they never kill and eat anyone, they are not considered as consumers.

Waste Materials in an Ecosystem

These materials include: rotting wood, dead animal carcasses, feces (poop), urine…etc.  In short, they are the organic garbage of an ecosystem.

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