Why are decomposers so important to an ecosystem?

1 Answer
Nov 25, 2015

Decomposers return matter to the system.


Matter is found in a limited amount on earth and has to be returned to the ecosystem in a usable form whenever an organism dies. Decomposers fill this role. They break down the body of the dead organism and return the matter in it to the ecosystem via several processes and stages.


In animals, enzymes within the body break down tissues and bacteria within the body do the same while releasing gases, causing bloat. Fluid leaks from any openings, and this type of liquid environment attracts flies and insects. Once most of the soft tissues have been broken down, the hard tissues, such as bones, remain. Throughout this process, nutrients escape into the soil and are consumed by other organisms. Thus, they are reused again. Decomposers release CO2 back into the atmosphere and NH3 into the soil.


For related questions and explanations on Socratic, check out how decomposers are connected to producers and consumers , how decomposers function in a food chain, and how decomposition is similar to recycling .