Decomposer

From Academic Kids

Decomposers are organisms (often fungi or bacteria) that break down organic materials to gain nutrients and energy. Decomposition is a natural process that will happen by default, but decomposers accelerate the process. The role that decomposers perform in an ecosystem is extremely important. When an organism dies, it leaves behind nutrients that are locked tightly together. A scavenger may eat the carcass, but its feces still contains a considerable amount of unused energy and nutrients. Decomposers such as fungi will later induce further breakdown. This last step releases raw nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium) in a form usable to plants, which quickly incorporate the chemicals into their own cells. This process greatly increases the nutrient-load of an ecosystem, in turn allowing for greater biodiversity.

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