Processing, please wait...
It was processed successfully!
It was processed successfully!
Login Create Free Account
Create Free Account

Decomposer Definition

Decomposers are living things that break down dead things. For example, worms decompose dead plants into soil nutrients.

View Lesson on Food Webs: Cycling of Matter & Flow of Energy
Grades 6-8 VideoFood Webs: Cycling of Matter & Flow of Energy player orange
Preview Only
Oops! It looks like your security settings are blocking this video 🙁

If you are on a school computer or network, ask your tech person to whitelist these URLs:
*.wistia.com, fast.wistia.com, fast.wistia.net, embedwistia-a.akamaihd.net

Sometimes a simple refresh solves this issue. If you need further help, contact us.


Food Webs: Cycling of Matter & Flow of Energy

Fun Facts

  • Decomposers like maggots break down dead matter into carbon dioxide and water.
  • Flesh-eating beetles are decomposers that eat dead flesh off bones.
  • Yeast, a decomposer, produces carbon dioxide by breaking down sugar.

Why Do We Need To Know About Decomposer

Learning about decomposers helps us understand how nature recycles and why it’s important for our planet. Decomposers, like worms or maggots, break down dead stuff into carbon dioxide and water. This process makes the soil richer, helping plants grow and supporting the food chain.

This knowledge is used in studying the ocean to keep seafood safe, or in farming to grow better crops. Knowing about decomposers also helps in jobs related to the environment, food, and health because they play a big role in keeping ecosystems healthy and maintaining the natural cycle of nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions

When we consume food, what happens to the molecules?
When we eat food, our body breaks the molecules down through chemical processes. In cellular respiration, our bodies use sugar and oxygen to create energy for our bodies to use in different ways. The molecules are broken down into building blocks and put back together in different ways.
Why are there typically a larger number of producers than tertiary consumers in an ecosystem?
Only about 10% of energy is passed on to the next organism in a food chain, so there needs to be more of the living things lower in the energy pyramid to support the living things higher in the pyramid.
When living things die, why are there only bones remaining after some time?
Decomposers break down dead material. They break the dead matter into molecules like carbon dioxide and water, that go back into the soil.
Explore More Science Topics
We’ve sent you an email with instructions how to reset your password.
Choose Your Free Trial Period
3 Days

3 days to access to all of our teaching resources for free.

Continue to Lessons
30 Days

Get 30 days free by inviting other teachers to try it too.

Share with Teachers
Get 30 Days Free
By inviting 4 other teachers to try it too.
4 required

*only school emails accepted.

Skip, I will use a 3 day free trial

Thank You!

Enjoy your free 30 days trial