Detritus feeders start the process by eating dead animals and producing waste materials.
Decomposers digest everything, using some of the nutrients to grow and reproduce.
They produce waste products - CO2, water and nutrients.
This recycling means the soil contains mineral ions plants need to grow and clean up dead organisms.
Conditions for decay
Warm - chemical reactions in microorganisms work faster when warm, reactions slow down and stop if too cold and enzymes denature if too hot.
Moist - easier to dissolve foods, prevents drying out and microorganisms work better.
Plenty of O2 - decomposers respire and need O2 to release energy.
Decay helps to recycle resources:
1. Sewage treatment plants
2. Compost heaps
1. Reduces landfill
2. Better for environment