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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).[1] 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). However, the terms detritivore and decomposer are often used interchangeably.

Two Adonis blue
Adonis blue
butterflies lap at a small lump of feces lying on a rock.

Detritivores are an important aspect of many ecosystems. They can live on any soil with an organic component, including marine ecosystems, where they are termed interchangeably with bottom feeders. Typical detritivorous animals include millipedes, springtails, woodlice, dung flies, slugs, many terrestrial worms, sea stars, sea cucumbers, fiddler crabs, and some sedentary polychaetes such as amphitrites (Amphitritinae, worms of the family Terebellidae) and other terebellids. Scavengers are typically not thought to be detritivores, as they generally eat large quantities of organic matter, but both detritivores and scavengers are specific cases of consumer-resource systems.[2] The eating of wood, whether alive or dead, is known as xylophagy. Τhe activity of animals feeding only on dead wood is called sapro-xylophagy and those animals, sapro-xylophagous. Ecology[edit]

Fungi
Fungi
are the primary decomposers in most environments, illustrated here Mycena interrupta. Only fungi produce the enzymes necessary to decompose lignin, a chemically complex substance found in wood.

In food webs, detritivores generally play the roles of decomposers. Detritivores are often eaten by consumers and therefore commonly play important roles as recyclers in ecosystem energy flow and biogeochemical cycles. Many detritivores live in mature woodland, though the term can be applied to certain bottom-feeders in wet environments. These organisms play a crucial role in benthic ecosystems, forming essential food chains and participating in the nitrogen cycle.[3] Fungi, acting as decomposers, are important in today's terrestrial environment. During the Carboniferous period, fungi and bacteria had yet to evolve the capacity to digest lignin, and so large deposits of dead plant tissue accumulated during this period, later becoming the fossil fuels.[citation needed]

A decaying tree trunk in Canada's boreal forest. Decaying wood fills an important ecological niche, providing habitat and shelter, and returning important nutrients to the soil after undergoing decomposition.

By feeding on sediments directly to extract the organic component, some detritivores accidentally concentrate toxic pollutants. See also[edit]

Decomposer Saprotrophic nutrition Nepenthes ampullaria Consumer-resource systems

References[edit]

^ Wetzel, R. G. 2001. Limnology: Lake and River Ecosystems. Academic Press. 3rd. p.700. ^ Getz, W. (2011). Biomass transformation webs provide a unified approach to consumer–resource modelling. Ecology
Ecology
Letters, doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01566.x. ^ "Nitrogen in Benthic
Benthic
Food Chains" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-10. , Tenore, K.R., SCOPE publication.

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Feeding
Feeding
behaviours

Carnivores

adult

Hematophagy Insectivore Lepidophagy Man-eater Molluscivore Mucophagy Myrmecophagy Ophiophagy Piscivore Avivore Spongivore Vermivore

reproductive

Oophagy Paedophagy Placentophagy Breastfeeding Weaning

cannibalistic

Animal cannibalism Human cannibalism Self-cannibalism Sexual cannibalism

Herbivores

Folivore Florivore Frugivore Graminivore Granivore Nectarivore Palynivore Xylophagy Osteophagy

Cellular

Phagocytosis Myzocytosis

Others

Microbivory Bacterivore Fungivore Coprophagia Detritivore Geophagia Omnivore Planktivore Saprophagy Xenophagy

Methods

Ambush predator Apex predator Bait balls Bottom feeding Browsing Feeding
Feeding
frenzy Filter feeding Grazing Hypercarnivore Hypocarnivore Intraguild predation Kleptoparasitism Lunge feeding Mesocarnivore Pivot feeding Ram feeding Scavenging Suction feeding Trophallaxis

Predation Antipredator adaptation Carnivorous plant Carnivorous fungus Carnivorous protist Category:Eating behaviors

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Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Trophic components

General

Abiotic component Abiotic stress Behaviour Biogeochemical cycle Biomass Biotic component Biotic stress Carrying capacity Competition Ecosystem Ecosystem
Ecosystem
ecology Ecosystem
Ecosystem
model Keystone species List of feeding behaviours Metabolic theory of ecology Productivity Resource

Producers

Autotrophs Chemosynthesis Chemotrophs Foundation species Mixotrophs Myco-heterotrophy Mycotroph Organotrophs Photoheterotrophs Photosynthesis Photosynthetic efficiency Phototrophs Primary nutritional groups Primary production

Consumers

Apex predator Bacterivore Carnivores Chemoorganotroph Foraging Generalist and specialist species Intraguild predation Herbivores Heterotroph Heterotrophic nutrition Insectivore Mesopredators Mesopredator
Mesopredator
release hypothesis Omnivores Optimal foraging theory Predation Prey switching

Decomposers

Chemoorganoheterotrophy Decomposition Detritivores Detritus

Microorganisms

Archaea Bacteriophage Environmental microbiology Lithoautotroph Lithotrophy Microbial cooperation Microbial ecology Microbial food web Microbial intelligence Microbial loop Microbial mat Microbial metabolism Phage ecology

Food webs

Biomagnification Ecological efficiency Ecological pyramid Energy flow Food chain Trophic level

Example webs

Cold seeps Hydrothermal vents Intertidal Kelp forests Lakes North Pacific Subtropical Gyre Rivers San Francisco Estuary Soil Tide pool

Processes

Ascendency Bioaccumulation Cascade effect Climax community Competitive exclusion principle Consumer-resource systems Copiotrophs Dominance Ecological network Ecological succession Energy quality Energy Systems Language f-ratio Feed conversion ratio Feeding
Feeding
frenzy Mesotrophic soil Nutrient cycle Oligotroph Paradox of the plankton Trophic cascade Trophic mutualism Trophic state index

Defense, counter

Animal coloration Antipredator adaptations Camouflage Deimatic behaviour Herbivore
Herbivore
adaptations to plant defense Mimicry Plant
Plant
defense against herbivory Predator avoidance in schooling fish

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Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components

Population ecology

Abundance Allee effect Depensation Ecological yield Effective population size Intraspecific competition Logistic function Malthusian growth model Maximum sustainable yield Overpopulation in wild animals Overexploitation Population cycle Population dynamics Population modeling Population size Predator–prey (Lotka–Volterra) equations Recruitment Resilience Small population size Stability

Species

Biodiversity Density-dependent inhibition Ecological effects of biodiversity Ecological extinction Endemic species Flagship species Gradient analysis Indicator species Introduced species Invasive species Latitudinal gradients in species diversity Minimum viable population Neutral theory Occupancy–abundance relationship Population viability analysis Priority effect Rapoport's rule Relative abundance distribution Relative species abundance Species diversity Species homogeneity Species richness Species distribution Species-area curve Umbrella species

Species interaction

Antibiosis Biological interaction Commensalism Community ecology Ecological facilitation Interspecific competition Mutualism Storage effect

Spatial ecology

Biogeography Cross-boundary subsidy Ecocline Ecotone Ecotype Disturbance Edge effects Foster's rule Habitat
Habitat
fragmentation Ideal free distribution Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis Island biogeography Landscape ecology Landscape epidemiology Landscape limnology Metapopulation Patch dynamics r/K selection theory Resource selection function Source–sink dynamics

Niche

Ecological niche Ecological trap Ecosystem
Ecosystem
engineer Environmental niche modelling Guild Habitat Marine habitats Limiting similarity Niche apportionment models Niche construction Niche differentiation

Other networks

Assembly rules Bateman's principle Bioluminescence Ecological collapse Ecological debt Ecological deficit Ecological energetics Ecological indicator Ecological threshold Ecosystem
Ecosystem
diversity Emergence Extinction debt Kleiber's law Liebig's law of the minimum Marginal value theorem Thorson's rule Xerosere

Other

Allometry Alternative stable state Balance of nature Biological data visualization Ecocline Ecological economics Ecological footprint Ecological forecasting Ecological humanities Ecological stoichiometry Ecopath Ecosystem
Ecosystem
based fisheries Endolith Evolutionary ecology Functional ecology Industrial ecology Macroecology Microecosystem Natural environment Regime shift Systems ecology Urban ecology Theoretical ecology

List of ec

.