Difference between Detritivores and Saprotrophs

Detritivores and Saprotrophs are two important parts of the food chain. The heterotrophs that feed on dead animals are called Detritivores while heterotrophic organisms feed on rotten plant matter. In the biological world the food chain ensures that appropriate energy flows through the entire ecosystem and at the same time Detritivores and Saprotrophs are two important parts of this process. Both organisms are involved in decomposing which is necessary to help break down organic matter so that it can be used for other purposes. Further categories also separate them from each other including the factor that Saprotrophs digest food externally and Detritivores digest food internally. Detritivores are also called bottom feeders as they live in an aquatic environment.


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    Detritivores organisms feed on dead animals including biomass and faeces. They digest lumps separately but unicellular organisms like bacteria and protozoa are not part of Detritivores. These organisms also partly feed on plants and organic biomass as they live in an aquatic environment. Called sea cucumbers, Terebellids, sea stars, fiddler crabs, polychaetes are common examples of Detritivores organisms. On the other hand, earthworms are terrestrial Detritivores. These organisms are also called recyclers of energy as they are food sources for different carnivores. They automatically produce energy in the shape of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. Biological matter that decomposes are ingested by Detritivores through their digestive system. Due to this process, plants absorb the nutrients from the soil. Detritivores also perform two different tasks to consume and contribute necessary nutrients for animals and plants.

    - Image Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

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    Saprotrophs organisms feed on dead and rotten plant matter. They grow quickly if the sufficient environment of an appropriate level of water and oxygen is available. The level of pH along with suitable temperature also provides them with the proper set of conditions to encourage them to grow. Different Fungi species can be called Saprotrophs organisms. Fungi species have a great ability to digest lignin in the xylem tissues of plants and often called predominate among Saprotrophs. Many different organisms do not carboniferous but if they find suitable environment, they also developed the lignin digesting enzymes. This digesting enzyme is considered secret digesting enzymes. Unlike Detritivores, Saprotrophs organisms absorb chemically digested food through internal and external digestion. This food gives them the ability to reproduce as well.

    - Image Courtesy: biologycs.com

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