Decomposers Are: Definition, Functions and Types

Decomposers are – In the environment and habitat of living things, every living thing has its own role and function. There are living things that have a role as producers or even eaters, there are also living things that have other roles, namely as decomposers. Living things that have a role as decomposers are also known as decomposers.

Decomposers are organisms that help in the process of decomposition or decay of organic matter in nature. They help in breaking down organic matter into simpler compounds that can be reused by plants and other animals. Some examples of decomposers include fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates such as ladybugs and earthworms. Decomposers are very important in maintaining the balance of nature and maintaining soil fertility.

Definition of Decomposer

In an ecosystem, decomposers have a very important role. They help break down unused organic matter into simpler compounds that can be reused by plants and other animals. Some examples of decomposers include fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates such as ladybugs and earthworms. They play an important role in maintaining the balance of nature and maintaining soil fertility. Then what is the definition of a decomposer?

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), decomposers are several types of organisms such as bacteria and fungi that break down organic substances or elements into simpler parts in the ecological cycle process by living from or destroying dead protoplasm. This is an important role in maintaining the balance of nature and maintaining soil fertility.

In general, decomposers are organisms that obtain energy by decomposing the remains of living things that have died. They play an important role in the sustainability of ecosystems on land and in the sea by helping to break down dead organisms into inorganic substances that can be reused by plants and other animals.

In the pattern of the food chain, there are also producers, namely organisms that produce their own food, and consumers, namely organisms that eat other organisms. Decomposers help break down dead organisms so they can be returned to the soil as nutrients essential for growth.

Through the decomposition process carried out by the decomposer, carbon dioxide gas will be produced. This gas is very useful for the photosynthesis process of plants. In addition, decomposers also help add organic compounds to the soil. Substances such as carbon, water and nitrogen will be returned to the ecosystem through decomposition activities carried out by decomposers. Thus, decomposers play an important role in maintaining the balance of nature and maintaining soil fertility.

In an ecosystem, there are three biotic components that influence and interact with each other: producers, consumers, and decomposers. Producers are organisms that are able to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis. For example, green plants that can convert sunlight into sugar and other simple carbohydrates.

Consumers are organisms that eat plants or other animals to get energy. Consumers are divided into two levels, namely consumers I (herbivores) who eat plants, and consumers II (carnivores) who eat animals. For example, the giraffe is consumer I and the lion is consumer II. Meanwhile, decomposers are organisms that get energy by breaking down dead organisms into nutrients. For example, fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates such as ladybugs and earthworms are decomposers.

Decomposer Function

Decomposers play an important role in every ecosystem. They help break down dead organisms into organic matter that can be reused by other plants and animals. Without decomposers, dead organisms will not be broken down and recycled into nutrients that can support the growth and reproduction of other living things.

The main function of the decomposer is to decompose organic matter from dead organisms so that it can provide nutrients for other organisms. Therefore, the decomposer has several functions, including the following:

1. Serves as a chemical reagent in the soil

Decomposer organisms found in the soil play an important role in breaking down organic matter in the soil into nitrates. These nitrates are then needed by plants to grow and develop.

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2. Decomposers function as decomposers of pollutants buried in the ground

Another function of decomposers is as a biological agent whose job is to clean up pollutants in the soil.

Pollutants buried in the soil will then be broken down and become materials that are harmless. The decomposition of pollutants in the soil can take place very quickly, if the activity of decomposer organisms in the soil is high.

3. Serves as a deterrent to the development of diseases that grow in the soil

Soil can be said to be in normal conditions, if there is activity in the soil of organisms and organic compounds in a high enough capacity. So that’s when the organisms in the soil manage to fight off diseases and pathogens that enter the soil.

Organisms that have been included in the category of decomposers or decomposers will naturally take advantage of the principle of biological control. That way, all other organisms that are considered disturbing will be easier and can be controlled.

4. Give effect to soil texture

Another role of the decomposer is that it can provide texture to the soil. Based on the texture, soil can be categorized into several types.

There are soils that have a fine texture, there are also soils that have a medium to coarse texture. The soil textures are also influenced by the decomposers in the soil.

5. Can affect fertility in the soil

Decomposers do not only play a role in providing texture to the soil, organisms from decomposers also have a role in being able to form soil structure and can determine the level of soil fertility.

Soil is composed of particles that are bound by one another. It is these particle binders that are formed from organic materials which are produced by decomposer organisms that live in the soil.

Organisms in the soil can also create pores which have the benefit of making the soil more friable. This will also make the process of soil aeration take place. With these two factors, it will allow various kinds of plants to thrive from all types of soil.

Apart from the five functions of the decomposer above, the decomposer also has the following functions:

  • Helps break down organic matter into simpler compounds such as carbon, water and nitrogen.
  • Produces carbon dioxide gas that plants need in the process of photosynthesis.
  • Increase the content of organic compounds in the soil needed by plants for growth.
  • Assist in managing organic waste by decomposing food scraps, garbage and other waste into simpler compounds.
  • Helps maintain soil fertility by decomposing the remains of dead plants and animals so they can be returned to the soil as nutrients essential for growth.

Types and Examples of Decomposers

Decomposers are organisms found in various types of ecosystems, such as terrestrial, grassland, desert, fresh water, and marine ecosystems. Each ecosystem also has different types of decomposers, depending on the decomposers’ ability to adapt to the environment in which they live.

In general, decomposers can be grouped into four types based on their nature:

1. Microbes 

Microbes are very tiny organisms, usually invisible to the naked eye. Included in the microbial group are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses.

Bacteria are the most common microbes found in nature, especially in soil, water and air. Several types of bacteria are beneficial to humans, such as bacteria used in the fermentation process to make food, such as yogurt and cheese, as well as bacteria used in the process of making medicines. However, some types of bacteria can also cause disease, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Fungus is also a microbe that is commonly found in nature, especially in soil and leaves. Fungi or bacteria have unique properties and function as a balancer in the environmental ecosystem.

2. Microfauna

Microfauna are very small organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye, that live in soil, water or other environments. Organisms included in the microfauna group are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and earthworms.

Microfauna play an important role in ecosystems, especially in breaking down organic matter into simpler compounds that can be reused by plants and other animals. Microfauna can also help control populations of pathogens (organisms that cause disease) and increase soil fertility.

Microfauna can also be an indicator of environmental quality, because the presence and abundance of microfauna can be affected by environmental conditions, such as pH, humidity and nutrient content.

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3. Meiofauna

The meiofauna are organisms that are between 0.1 and 1 millimeter in size, including earthworms, nematodes, rotifers, and tardigrades. Meiofauna live in soil, water, or other environments, and play an important role in ecosystems, especially in breaking down organic matter into simpler compounds that can be reused by other plants and animals.

Meiofauna can also help control populations of pathogens (organisms that cause disease) and increase soil fertility. Meiofauna can also be an indicator of environmental quality, because the presence and abundance of meiofauna can be affected by environmental conditions, such as pH, humidity, and nutrient content.

4. Macrofauna 

Macrofauna are organisms larger than 1 millimeter, including insects, cockroaches, slugs, and lumbricus (earthworms). Macrofauna live in soil, water, or other environments, and play an important role in ecosystems, especially in breaking down organic matter into simpler compounds that can be reused by other plants and animals.

Macrofauna can also help control populations of pathogens (organisms that cause disease) and increase soil fertility. Macrofauna can also be an indicator of environmental quality, because the presence and abundance of macrofauna can be affected by environmental conditions, such as pH, humidity, and nutrient content.

Decomposer example

Based on the types of decomposers described above, there are several examples of decomposers grouped based on their ecosystem. Each ecosystem has different types of decomposers. Here’s an explanation.

 

  • Decomposers in Forest Ecosystems

Forest ecosystems are ecosystems consisting of trees, grass, animals and microorganisms that are interrelated and influence one another. Forest ecosystems can consist of tropical rain forests, monsoon forests, mangrove forests, mangrove forests, brackish forests, and mountain forests.

In forest ecosystems, decomposers play an important role in breaking down the remains of dead plants and animals into nutrients that can be reused by other plants and animals. Several types of decomposers that can be found in forest ecosystems are: fungi, bacteria, slugs, slugs, earthworms.

 

  • Decomposers in Polar Ecosystems

Polar ecosystems are ecosystems found in the polar regions, namely in the North Pole and South Pole. The polar ecosystem consists of plants, animals and microorganisms that have adapted to a very cold and dry climate.

The poles have very low temperatures, making it impossible for decomposers to live. However, there is one type of decomposer organism that is able to live in polar ecosystems, namely bacteria. This is because bacteria have the ability to survive in any condition or temperature.

 

  • Decomposers in Desert Ecosystems

Desert ecosystems are ecosystems found in desert areas, which are dry and hot areas with very few plants and animals. Desert ecosystems consist of plants, animals and microorganisms that have adapted to a dry and hot climate.

Desert ecosystems are the opposite of arctic ecosystems. Because desert ecosystems have extreme hot temperature conditions and make it difficult for several types of decomposers or decomposers to survive in these ecosystems.

Several types of decomposers or decomposers that can survive in desert ecosystems include earthworms, bacteria, millipedes and beetles.

 

  • Decomposers in Water Ecosystems

An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem consisting of water and the organisms that live in or around it. Water ecosystems can consist of fresh water, sea water, brackish water, underground freshwater and open water.

Water ecosystems can be grouped into several types based on depth, acidity and other physical conditions. Several types of aquatic ecosystems that are often encountered are:

  • Freshwater ecosystems: Examples are lakes, swamps, rivers and ponds.
  • Marine water ecosystems: Examples are shallow seas, deep seas, and outer seas.
  • Brackish water ecosystems: Examples are estuaries, beaches, and mangroves.
  • Underground freshwater ecosystems: An example is underground fresh water which can be found in several areas of the world.
  • Open water ecosystem: An example is open water in an unprotected ocean.

Of the five types of aquatic ecosystems, decomposers or decomposers also live in aquatic ecosystems. Most types of decomposers that can live in aquatic ecosystems are bacteria.

Apart from bacteria, there are also several animals known as scavengers that live in aquatic ecosystems such as clams, worms, several types of fish, lobsters to crabs.

Thus the explanation about decomposers are decomposers that are beneficial to the environment. Find out more about decomposers or other organisms that are beneficial to the environment in various books.

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Author: Khansa

Reference :

  • https://www.geologinesia.com/2020/02/organism-decomposer.html
  • https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decomposer
  • https://www.seluncur.id/pengertian-dekomposer/