There are three main decomposers in the prairie: the dung beetle, carrion beetle and worm. These insects help the prairie ecosystem decompose waste left by plants and animals. They have an important role to play in the ecosystem's food web, according to Nature Works. They recycle the waste from plants and animals into useful chemicals such as carbon and nitrogen, which in turn benefit both the air and soil.
According to Dung Beetle Expert John Feehan, dung beetles collect and eat the waste of both herbivores and omnivores, but they prefer that of herbivores. They also eat decaying plant life and mushrooms. The excrement collected by the dung beetles is also used to nourish their young.
Unlike the dung beetles, carrion beetles feed on the dead and decaying carcasses of animals, which greatly assists the decomposition process. They are also known as burying beetles because they dig the ground out from under small, dead rodents and bury their decaying carcasses.
Nature Watch states that worms devour both decaying animal and plant matter. They are able to eat very quickly and even produce their own body weight in dung each day. Earthworms are helpful in aerating the soil to allow water to penetrate and roots to grow. Through decomposition they release nutrients back into the soil.