Dictionary > Detritivore

Detritivore

Definition
noun, plural: detritivores
An organism that feeds on detritus or organic waste
Supplement
A detritivore pertains to any organism that feeds on detritus or organic waste. Its name is derived from being a detritus-feeder. In a biological context, detritus refers to the dead particulate organic material. It includes decomposing plants and animals as well as faeces.
In the food chain or an ecological pyramid, the detritivores are found at the topmost level. At the base is a group of organisms called producers that are capable of manufacturing their own food through biosynthesis (e.g. photosynthesis). They are exemplified by plants. The trophic level next to producers is a group of organisms that feed on organic matter, e.g. plants and/or animals. This trophic level is comprised of so-called consumers. Detritivores are on top trophic level, consuming detritus and decaying dead plant and animal parts. Detritivores and decomposers are most of the times used interchangeably. However, others do not consider all decomposers as detritivores. Accordingly, detritivores in a stricter sense are those that ingest lumps of matter in contrast to other decomposers such as bacteria and fungi that absorb and metabolize detritus.
Examples of detritivores include millipedes, woodlice, dung flies, many terrestrial worms and burying beetles. By consuming dead organic matter they speed up decomposition by increasing the surface area available to saprophytic bacteria.
Word origin: Latin dētrītus (“the act of rubbing away”), from dēterō (“to rub away, to rub off, to wear out”)
Synonym(s):

  • detrivore
  • detritophage
  • detritus feeder
  • detritus eater
  • saprophage

See also:

  • decomposer
  • food chain
  • trophic level


    You will also like...

    An artistic depiction of Dunkleosteus fish
    Fish

    The sea was teeming with life. Eventually, through reproduction and continued variation, fish came about. There are over..

    Early Earth
    The Origins of Life

    This tutorial digs into the past to investigate the origins of life. The section is split into geological periods in the..

    takahē
    Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri)

    Meet the colorful takahē, an extremely rare flightless bird. Find out more about its unique features and why they matte..

    Human Reproduction
    Human Reproduction

    Humans are capable of only one mode of reproduction, i.e. sexual reproduction. Haploid sex cells (gametes) are produced ..

    Still Water Community Plants
    Still Water Community Plants

    This tutorial looks at the adaptations of freshwater plants for them to thrive in still water habitats. Familiarize your..

    Nephrolepis exaltata
    Vascular Plants: Ferns and Relatives

    Ferns and their relatives are vascular plants, meaning they have xylem and phloem tissues. Because of the presence of va..