Decomposers or detrivores

Lesson 9: Producers, consumers and decomposers

Decomposers or detrivores

A decomposer is an organism of decay. These are also called saprobes. They break down the remains of dead animals and plants, releasing the substances that can be used by other members of the ecosystem.

These are also called as micro consumers i.e. saprotrophs (worms and insects) which decompose the dead and decayed matter or osmotrophs (bacteria and fungi) which pass through a membrane. Decomposers are the cleaners of the environment. These are a group of organisms consisting of small animals like worms, insects, bacteria and fungi which break down dead organic material into smaller particles and finally into simpler substances that are used by plants as nutrition. Thus, decomposition is a vital function in nature, as without this, all the nutrients would be tied up in dead matter and no new life would be produce.

Decomposers are an essential component of any ecosystem. Their main role is to recycle nutrients in dead organisms and their wastes. Most decomposers are bacteria and fungi. Without the decomposers, there could be no life since plants would run out of nutrients. Decomposers and scavengers break down dead plants and animals. They also break down the waste (poop) of other organisms. Decomposers are very important for any ecosystem. If they weren't in the ecosystem, the plants would not get essential nutrients, and dead matter and waste would pile up.

There are two kinds of decomposers, scavengers and decomposers.

gScavengers are animals that find dead animals or plants and eat them. While they eat them, they break them into small bits. In this
simulation, flies, wasps and cockroaches are scavengers. "Earthworms are also scavengers, but they only break down plants.

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wOnce a scavenger is done, the decomposers take over, and finish the job. Many kinds of decomposers are microscopic, meaning that they can't be seen without a microscope. Others, like fungi, can be seen.

Different kinds of decomposers do different jobs in the ecosystem.

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Others, like some kinds of bacteria, prefer breaking down meat or waste from carnivores.

Actinolites only break down dead plants, including hard to break down plants and the waste of herbivores.

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Others, like certain kinds of fungi, prefer fruits and vegetables.

Last modified: Thursday, 29 December 2011, 7:20 AM