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Scavengers vs. decomposers

  1. Aug 30, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Would a scavenger be considered a decomposer? What is the difference between the two?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    My book is kind of equivocal on this matter. It does not mention scavengers but talks about differing types of decomposers (saprotrophs and detritivores).
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2011 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's a good question, in that it provides grounds for thought. I wouldn't say a S can be a D. S may compete with D, e.g., a fox eating a decaying roadkill rabbit; crocodiles eating a decaying drowned buffalo; sharks feeding on a rotting whale carcass.

    S's seem to be higher order consumers, whereas D's are smaller organisms such as worms, termites, bacteria and fungi. I seem to recall that D's break down complex organic matter into smaller molecules that plants can use directly, e.g., worm wee. A fox's manure has to be broken down further, regardless whether it has been feeding off fresh rabbit or decaying rabbit. I'd think of a beach crab as a S, whereas a beach worm would, I think, be a D.

    This is just off the top of my head. If you want a good textbook answer, better consult a good textbook. :smile:
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