Home Topics The Importance of Decomposers to the Overall Biogeochemical Cycle


The Coyote and The Badger

The Coyote and The Badger

A very interesting clip just blew up the internet! If you haven’t seen this video of the coyote and the badger in your feed...
Gardnerella vaginalis

Gardnerella Vaginalis

Definition Gardnerella vaginalis is the name of a micro-aerophilic coccobacillus found in the vaginal flora. Gardnerella vaginalis does not cause bacterial vaginosis (vaginal infection) unless...
Acetic Acid

Acetic Acid

Definition Acetic acid is a mildly corrosive monocarboxylic acid. Otherwise known as ethanoic acid, methanecarboxylic acid, hydrogen acetate or ethylic acid, this organic compound is...
Amino Acids

Amino Acids

Definition Amino acids are the building blocks of polypeptides and proteins and play important roles in metabolic pathway, gene expression, and cell signal transduction regulation....
BCAA supplements: a muscle myth?

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Definition The branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three of the nine nutritionally essential amino acids. These three ingredients form a...
Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric Acid

Definition Sulfuric acid (sulphuric acid) is a corrosive mineral acid with an oily, glassy appearance that gave it its earlier name of oil of vitriol....
Bile salt action in the gut

Bile Salts

Definition Bile salts are found in bile, a secretion produced by liver cells to aid digestion. Although bile is 95% water, bile salts are its...
The salivary glands

Submandibular Gland

Definition Submandibular glands are the second-largest salivary gland type, producing around 65% of our saliva when unstimulated (at rest). Located under the jaw, the exocrine...
Metaphase I

Metaphase I

Definition The first metaphase of meisosis I encompasses the alignment of paired chromosomes along the center (metaphase plate) of a cell, ensuring that two complete...
Prophase II

Prophase II

Definition During prophase II of meiosis II, four important steps occur. These are the condensing of chromatin into chromosomes, disintegration of the nuclear envelope, migration...

The Importance of Decomposers to the Overall Biogeochemical Cycle

The organisms that occupy the decomposer trophic level of the food web on Earth are vital to the existence of life on the planet. Bacteria, fungi and worms take the dead and decaying material and break it down (decomposition) so that the components can be recycled through the biogeochemical cycles. If there were no decomposers, plants would not be able to get nitrogen from the atmosphere to use in their biological processes, and some of the trace elements essential for life would remain bound up in rotting organic material. This would cause a chain reaction that would interrupt the natural flow of energy and molecules through the biogeochemical cycles, and result in the death of producers and consumers in the food web as well.

Soil food web
The image above shows the interdependence of all the components in the soil food web. If one trophic level is impaired or eliminated, the entire system will be affected.


  • OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax. May 20, 2013. http://cnx.org/content/col11448/latest/