A decomposer, also known as a saprobe, is a creature or organism that breaks down organic matter such as dead animals and plant materials. Some commonly recognized decomposers are earth worms, fungi such as mushrooms and bacteria. Insects such as ants, wasps and cockroaches also take part in the decomposition of organic material, but are classified as scavengers. This is due to the fact that their waste materials are broken down by decomposers. Decomposers are an important part of any ecosystem. They have a necessary function that contributes to the ongoing growth and survival of the ecosystem. Why are they important? Read below to find out.
Why are decomposers important to the ecosystem?
The main reason that decomposers are so important to an ecosystem is because of their role in recycling nutrients back into the environment. When a decomposer breaks down decaying organic material they produce waste material. This waste material is rich with nutrients gained from the decaying organic matter. The waste returns to the soil and the nutrients are absorbed by plants. The plants are then eaten by animals and the nutrients are passed from the plant to the animal. Without
decomposers ecosystems would not survive due to lack of nutrients.
Decomposers are also important as they remove the dead and decaying organic matter from ecosystems. Without decomposers this material would continue to mount up and would cause living plants and animals to die due to lack of nutrients, light and water. It is also important to note that each type of decomposer is able to break down particular material. For example wood fungi are the only decomposers which have the enzymes necessary to break down lignin in wood.