noun, plural: decomposers

(ecology) An organism whose ecological function involves the recycling of nutrients by performing the natural process of decomposition as it feeds on dead or decaying organisms.


Examples of decomposers are fungi and bacteria that obtain their nutrients from dead plant or animal material. They break down cells of dead plants and animals into simpler substances, which become organic nutrients available to the ecosystem.

Word origin: decompose + -er

Compare: detritivore

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