Detritivore  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Detritivores, also known as detritus feeders or saprophages, are heterotrophs that obtain nutrients by consuming detritus (decomposing organic matter). By doing so, they contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles.

Detritivores are an important aspect of many ecosystems. They can live on any soil with an organic component, and even live in marine ecosystems where they are termed interchangeably with bottom feeders.

Typical detritivorous animals include millipedes, woodlice, dung flies, slugs, many terrestrial worms, sea stars, fiddler crabs, and some sedentary polychaetes such as amphitrites (Amphitritinae, worms of the family terebellidae) and other terebellids.

Many species of bacteria, fungi and protists, unable to ingest discrete lumps of matter, instead live by absorbing and metabolising on a molecular scale. Scavengers are typically not thought to be detritivores, as they generally consume larger quantities of organic matter, but both detritivores and scavengers are specific cases of Consumer-Resource Systems. Coprovores are also usually treated separately as they exhibit a slightly different feeding behaviour. The eating of wood, whether live or dead, is known as xylophagy. Animals feeding only on dead wood are called sapro-xylophagy/sapro-xylophagous.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Detritivore" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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