What is a Decomposer?

Decomposers and scavengers break down dead plants and animals. They also break down the waste (poop) of other organisms. Decomposers are very important for any ecosystem. If they weren't in the ecosystem, the plants would not get essential nutrients, and dead matter and waste would pile up.

There are two kinds of decomposers, scavengers and decomposers.

Scavengers are animals that find dead animals or plants and eat them. While they eat them, they break them into small bits. In this simulation, flies, wasps and cockroaches are scavengers. Earthworms are also scavengers, but they only break down plants.


Once a scavenger is done, the decomposers take over, and finish the job. Many kinds of decomposers are microscopic, meaning that they can't be seen without a microscope. Others, like fungi, can be seen.

Different kinds of decomposers do different jobs in the ecosystem.

Others, like some kinds of bacteria, prefer breaking down meat or waste from carnivores.

Actinolites only break down dead plants, including hard to break down plants and the waste of herbivores.

Others, like certain kinds of fungi, prefer fruits and vegetables.