Colonial organisms are actually groups of individual organisms with a close, dependent relationship with other organisms in the colony, often with each member having a very specific specialization that makes them incapable of surviving alone. The individual members can be multicellular organisms or single-celled organisms.
Colonial organisms benefit from their organization by having more protection or being able to catch larger prey than an individual member could. While this description is usually applied to organisms that live attached to one another, insects, such as honey bees and ants, that live in mutually dependent colonies are also sometimes considered colonial organisms.
Some of the most complex examples of colonial organisms are siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man o' war. They are most closely related to jellyfish and sea anemones, which are true individual organisms. These colonial organisms show a very high level of specialization in their individual members, which are known as zooids. The Portuguese man o' war has four different types of zooids, each of which performs a particular function for the colonial organisms that the others cannot. One type of zooid provides propulsion for the colony, while another is able to ingest and digest food items. They live attached to one another, sharing nutrition.Learn More
The main difference between autotrophic organisms and heterotrophic organisms is that the former produce their own food, while the latter rely on other organisms for food. Autotrophs create nutritional organic substances from simple inorganic sources like carbon dioxide. Heterotrophs cannot produce organic compounds from inorganic substances.Full Answer >
A decomposer is an organism that feeds on dead organisms and the waste products of other organisms. Decomposers help nutrients cycle back into the ecosystem. Some examples of decomposers are insects, earthworms and bacteria.Full Answer >
Plants produce their own food, while animals must eat other organisms to survive. Plants make their own food via the process of photosynthesis, which involves using the sun's energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugar.Full Answer >
An organism that eats other organisms, living or dead, is called a consumer. Consumers are known by other names, depending on the type of food consumed. Categories of consumers include the omnivores, the meat-eating carnivores, the fruit-eating frugivores, the plant-eating herbivores and the detrivores that eat dead organic material.Full Answer >