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Detritivore
Detritivores (also known as detrivores, detritophages, detritus feeders, or detritus eaters) are heterotrophs that obtain nutrients by consuming detritus (decomposing plant and animal parts as well as feces). There are many kinds of invertebrates, vertebrates and plants that carry out coprophagy. By doing so, all these detritivores contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles. They should be distinguished from other decomposers, such as many species of bacteria, fungi and protists, which are unable to ingest discrete lumps of matter, but instead live by absorbing and metabolizing on a molecular scale ( saprotrophic nutrition). The terms ''detritivore'' and ''decomposer'' are often used interchangeably, but they describe different organisms. Detritivores are usually arthropods and help in the process of remineralization. Detritivores perform the first stage of remineralization, by fragmenting the dead plant matter, allowing decomposers to perform the second stage of remin ...
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Decomposer
Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms; they carry out decomposition, a process possible by only certain kingdoms, such as fungi. Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores ''ingest'' and digest dead matter internally, while decomposers ''directly absorb'' nutrients through external chemical and biological processes. Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients - they are unable to absorb them externally. Fungi The primary decomposer of litter in many ecosystems is fungi. Unlike bacteria, which are unicellular organisms and are decomposers as well, most saprotrophic fungi grow as a branching network of hyphae. While bacteria are re ...
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Detritus
In biology, detritus () is dead particulate organic material, as distinguished from dissolved organic material. Detritus typically includes the bodies or fragments of bodies of dead organisms, and fecal material. Detritus typically hosts communities of microorganisms that colonize and decompose (i.e. remineralize) it. In terrestrial ecosystems it is present as leaf litter and other organic matter that is intermixed with soil, which is denominated " soil organic matter". The detritus of aquatic ecosystems is organic material that is suspended in the water and accumulates in depositions on the floor of the body of water; when this floor is a seabed, such a deposition is denominated " marine snow". Theory The corpses of dead plants or animals, material derived from animal tissues (e.g. molted skin), and fecal matter gradually lose their form due to physical processes and the action of decomposers, including grazers, bacteria, and fungi. Decomposition, the process by w ...
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Millipede
Millipedes are a group of arthropods that are characterised by having two pairs of jointed legs on most body segments; they are known scientifically as the class Diplopoda, the name derived from this feature. Each double-legged segment is a result of two single segments fused together. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical or flattened bodies with more than 20 segments, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a tight ball. Although the name "millipede" derives from the Latin for "thousand feet", no species was known to have 1,000 or more until the discovery of '' Eumillipes persephone'', which can have over 1,300 legs. There are approximately 12,000 named species classified into 16 orders and around 140 families, making Diplopoda the largest class of myriapods, an arthropod group which also includes centipedes and other multi-legged creatures. Most millipedes are slow-moving detritivores, eating decaying leaves and other dead plant matter. Some eat fungi ...
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Decomposition
Decomposition or rot is the process by which dead organic substances are broken down into simpler organic or inorganic matter such as carbon dioxide, water, simple sugars and mineral salts. The process is a part of the nutrient cycle and is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biosphere. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death. Animals, such as worms, also help decompose the organic materials. Organisms that do this are known as decomposers or detritivores. Although no two organisms decompose in the same way, they all undergo the same sequential stages of decomposition. The science which studies decomposition is generally referred to as '' taphonomy'' from the Greek word ''taphos'', meaning tomb. Decomposition can also be a gradual process for organisms that have extended periods of dormancy. One can differentiate abiotic decomposition from biotic decomposition ( biodegradation). The former means "the d ...
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Sea Cucumbers
Sea cucumbers are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea (). They are marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor worldwide. The number of holothurian () species worldwide is about 1,717, with the greatest number being in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of these are gathered for human consumption and some species are cultivated in aquaculture systems. The harvested product is variously referred to as '' trepang'', ''namako'', ''bêche-de-mer'', or ''balate''. Sea cucumbers serve a useful role in the marine ecosystem as they help recycle nutrients, breaking down detritus and other organic matter, after which bacteria can continue the decomposition process. Like all echinoderms, sea cucumbers have an endoskeleton just below the skin, calcified structures that are usually reduced to isolated microscopic ossicles (or sclerietes) joined by connective tissue. In some species these can sometimes ...
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Sea Stars
Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea (). Common usage frequently finds these names being also applied to ophiuroids, which are correctly referred to as brittle stars or basket stars. Starfish are also known as asteroids due to being in the class Asteroidea. About 1,900 species of starfish live on the seabed in all the world's oceans, from warm, tropical zones to frigid, polar regions. They are found from the intertidal zone down to abyssal depths, at below the surface. Starfish are marine invertebrates. They typically have a central disc and usually five arms, though some species have a larger number of arms. The aboral or upper surface may be smooth, granular or spiny, and is covered with overlapping plates. Many species are brightly coloured in various shades of red or orange, while others are blue, grey or brown. Starfish have tube feet operated by a hydraulic system and a mouth at the centre of the oral or lower surface. ...
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Woodlice
A woodlouse (plural woodlice) is an isopod crustacean from the polyphyleticThe current consensus is that Oniscidea is actually triphyletic suborder Oniscidea within the order Isopoda. They get their name from often being found in old wood. The first woodlice were marine isopods which are presumed to have colonised land in the Carboniferous, though the oldest known fossils are from the Cretaceous period. They have many common names and although often referred to as terrestrial isopods, some species live semiterrestrially or have recolonised aquatic environments. Woodlice in the families Armadillidae, Armadillidiidae, Eubelidae, Tylidae and some other genera can roll up into a roughly spherical shape ( conglobate) as a defensive mechanism; others have partial rolling ability, but most cannot conglobate at all. Woodlice have a basic morphology of a segmented, dorso-ventrally flattened body with seven pairs of jointed legs, specialised appendages for respiration and ...
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Collembola
Springtails (Collembola) form the largest of the three lineages of modern hexapods that are no longer considered insects (the other two are the Protura and Diplura). Although the three orders are sometimes grouped together in a class called Entognatha because they have internal mouthparts, they do not appear to be any more closely related to one another than they are to all insects, which have external mouthparts. Collembolans are omnivorous, free-living organisms that prefer moist conditions. They do not directly engage in the decomposition of organic matter, but contribute to it indirectly through the fragmentation of organic matter and the control of soil microbial communities. The word ''Collembola'' is from the ancient Greek "glue" and "peg"; this name was given due to the existence of the collophore, which was previously thought to stick to surfaces to stabilize the creature. Some DNA sequence studies suggest that Collembola represent a separate evolutionary li ...
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Bottom Feeder
A bottom feeder is an aquatic animal that feeds on or near the bottom of a body of water. Biologists often use the terms ''benthos''—particularly for invertebrates such as shellfish, crabs, crayfish, sea anemones, starfish, snails, bristleworms and sea cucumbers—and ''benthivore'' or ''benthivorous'', for fish and invertebrates that feed on material from the bottom. However the term benthos includes all aquatic life that lives on or near the bottom, which means it also includes non-animals, such as plants and algae. Biologists also use specific terms that refer to bottom feeding fish, such as demersal fish, groundfish, benthic fish and benthopelagic fish. Examples of bottom feeding fish species groups are flatfish ( halibut, flounder, plaice, sole), eels, cod, haddock, bass, grouper, carp, bream ( snapper) and some species of catfish and shark. Feeding strategies Some bottom feeders are detritivores taking advantage of organic materials that sink down through bodies o ...
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Saprotrophic Nutrition
Saprotrophic nutrition or lysotrophic nutrition is a process of chemoheterotrophic extracellular digestion involved in the processing of decayed (dead or waste) organic matter. It occurs in saprotrophs, and is most often associated with fungi (for example ''Mucor'') and soil bacteria. Saprotrophic microscopic fungi are sometimes called saprobes; saprotrophic plants or bacterial flora are called saprophytes ( sapro- 'rotten material' + -phyte 'plant'), although it is now believed that all plants previously thought to be saprotrophic are in fact parasites of microscopic fungi or other plants. The process is most often facilitated through the active transport of such materials through endocytosis within the internal mycelium and its constituent hyphae. states the purpose of saprotrophs and their internal nutrition, as well as the main two types of fungi that are most often referred to, as well as describes, visually, the process of saprotrophic nutrition through a diagram of hy ...
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Arthropod
Arthropods (, (gen. ποδός)) are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Arthropoda. They are distinguished by their jointed limbs and cuticle made of chitin, often mineralised with calcium carbonate. The arthropod body plan consists of segments, each with a pair of appendages. Arthropods are bilaterally symmetrical and their body possesses an external skeleton. In order to keep growing, they must go through stages of moulting, a process by which they shed their exoskeleton to reveal a new one. Some species have wings. They are an extremely diverse group, with up to 10 million species. The haemocoel, an arthropod's internal cavity, through which its haemolymph – analogue of blood – circulates, accommodates its interior organs; it has an open circulatory system. Like their exteriors, the internal organs of arthropods are generally built of repeated segments. Their nervous system ...
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Feces
Feces ( or faeces), known colloquially and in slang as poo and poop, are the solid or semi-solid remains of food that was not digested in the small intestine, and has been broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. Feces contain a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut. Feces are discharged through the anus or cloaca during defecation. Feces can be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner in agriculture. They can also be burned as fuel or dried and used for construction. Some medicinal uses have been found. In the case of human feces, fecal transplants or fecal bacteriotherapy are in use. Urine and feces together are called excreta. Skatole is the principal compound responsible for the unpleasant smell of feces. Characteristics The distinctive odor of feces is due to skatole, and thiols (sulfur-containing compounds), as well as amines and carboxylic ac ...
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