Decomposers include certain types of bacteria, worms, slugs, snails and fungi. All of these organisms break down or eat dead or decomposing organisms to help carry out the process of decomposition. They are the last step in the food chain, which recycles nutrients and breaks down wastes and organic matter in the ecosystem.Continue Reading
Decomposers are known as heterotrophs because they eat organic substrates to obtain carbon, energy and other nutrients to grow and thrive. Decomposers break down the organic substrates via biochemical reactions that convert the substrates into metabolically useful products. This removes the need for internal digestive organs in decomposers. For this reason, most decomposers are bacteria and fungi. Bacteria are widespread and can break down a myriad of organic matter. Typically 1 gram of soil contains around 40 million bacterial cells that can break down organic molecules in the soil, which in turn produce more soil. Fungi primarily decompose litter and work it into the ecosystem, while worms, slugs and snails decompose fruits and vegetables. Bacteria, fungi and other decomposers help recycle many nutrients in nutrient cycles such as the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the iron cycle and the sulfur cycle.
Scavengers are sometimes considered decomposers. While consuming dead animals or plants, they break them into small pieces, which aids the process of decomposition.Learn more about Organic Chemistry
Decomposers in a coniferous forest include fungi, worms, protozoans, nematodes and soil bacteria. Mites and Collembola insects feed on some organic matter, although they are not the primary decomposers.Full Answer >
Some of the things that tiger salamanders eat in their natural habitats are slugs, snails, worms and insects. Tiger salamanders living in captivity may be fed baby snakes, other small salamanders, newborn mice and frogs. The larvae of tiger salamanders eat insect larvae and crustaceans and will not consume larger prey until they fully mature.Full Answer >
In tropical rain forests, such as the Amazon in South America, decomposer organisms include certain species of worm, fungi, bacteria and small arthropods. Decomposers are also known as saprotrophs and obtain nutrients by feeding off of dead and decaying materials. They play an important role in enriching soil and promoting the growth of living plants and animals by increasing levels of certain nutrients, such as nitrogen.Full Answer >
The decomposers in an underwater ecosystem are animal-like organisms called protists, fungi and bacteria. Referred to as saprotrophs, these organisms decompose dead matter from higher-level plants and animals, facilitating the re-entry of nutrients into the ecosystem in the form of raw nutrients and carbon dioxide.Full Answer >