Biomes, Ecological Cycles, and Environmental Milestones

Why do ecosystems need decomposers?

While energy flows through ecosystems in only one direction, entering at the producer level and exiting as heat and the transfer of energy (as biomass) to consumers, chemical compounds can be reused over and over again. In a well-functioning ecosystem, some organisms make their living by breaking down structures and recycling the compounds. These organisms are known as decomposers. Without these organisms, the chemicals used to build a tree would remain locked in the tree biomass for eternity instead of being returned to the soil after the tree’s death. The chemicals in the soil cause new growth, beginning the cycle once again.


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