What Role Do Scavengers Play in Rainforests?


Quick Answer

Scavengers in rainforests build and scatter nutrients throughout the forest. Scavengers consume decaying organisms and animals that have been killed by other animals. They also eat the carcasses of animals that have died of natural causes.

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Full Answer

Many kinds of scavengers exist in the rainforest. Insects can be scavengers, feeding on dead matter and helping break it down while transporting the nutrients throughout the rest of the ecosystem. Even animals that primarily hunt for food, such as leopards and jaguars, can also scavenge meals when necessary.

One of the true scavengers of the rainforest is the king vulture, a bird that subsists completely upon carrion, which is food killed by other animals. The king vulture looks out for possible meals as it soars above the ground. Once it spies carrion, it dives down and uses its large size to push other scavengers out of the way. The king vulture is not limited to rainforest ecosytems; it ranges throughout central and south. It is characterized by brightly its colored head. Its neck is usually blue or a shade of red, and it has a bright orange wattle on its beak. It uses its sharp beak and claws to tear into the flesh of its meals.

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