Fungi, worms, bacteria, snails and slugs are all types of decomposers. Decomposers get the nutrients they need by eating dead and decaying materials. These organisms keep ecosystems healthy by ensuring plants get the nutrients they need to survive.
Some decomposers are classified as scavengers. Scavengers eat dead animals and plants, breaking the dead material into smaller pieces as they eat. When scavengers finish eating, other decomposers feed on what is left of the dead organism. Clams, earthworms and freshwater shrimp are all classified as scavengers.
The activity level of decomposers depends on their environment. Decomposition occurs very rapidly in the rainforest because of all the moisture from precipitation. Decomposers are less-common in the desert because of the dry conditions. Some of the decomposers active in desert areas are millipedes, beetles and bacteria. Most of the decomposers found in water are bacterial organisms, but bodies of water are also home to clams, flatworms and other scavengers.
There are even some decomposers living in the Arctic, although only the hardiest organisms survive the harsh climate. Arctic ravens are classified as scavengers because they eat the carcasses of dead animals. Bacterial organisms are also able to survive the cold temperatures of the Arctic region.