B1.6 Waste Materials from Plants and Animals


B1.6.1 Decay

Waste materials from plants and animals:

Many trees shed their leaves each year. 
Most animals produce droppings at least once a day
All plants + animals eventually die

Microorganisms decompose this waste material, so substances released during the process can be used again by plants for healthy growth. It is then recycled. In stable communities, the processes that remove materials are balanced by processes that return materials. 

Decay - the breakdown/digestion of materials by microorganisms

Decay is an essential life process that digests food or waste matter and recycles materials. Materials from living things decay because they are digested (broken down) by microorganisms. These microorganisms cause decay by releasing enzymes that break down compounds to be absorbed by their cells.

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B1.6.1 Decomposers

Bacteria and fungi are the main groups of decomposer.

Microorganisms are more active and digest materials faster in conditions that are:

  • Warm
  • Moist
  • Aerobic (with sufficient amounts of oxygen)
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B1.6.2 The Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle shows how carbon moves from the atmosphere, through various animals and plants, then back into the atmosphere again.

All cells contain carbon compounds such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Carbon is passed from the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, to living things. It is passed from one organism to the next in complex molecules, and returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide again. 

Detritus feeders- animals that eat dead and decaying material e.g earthworms

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B1.6.2 The Carbon Cycle


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