B1.6 Waste Materials from Plants and Animals

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Decay Processes

Decay occurs when a group of of organisms called decomposers feed on dead organic material.

  • The decomposers are largly microorganisms e.g. bacteria and fungi
    • They feed on dead organisms and waste droppings 
  • Some animals start the process
    • These are called detritus feeders
  • The microorganisms then produce enzymes to digest everything - dead animals and plants, detritus feeders plus their waste
  • The microorganisms help to make the material to decay but also release substances back into the environment again
  • The waste products of the decomposers are carbon dioxide, water and minerals which plants can use
  • This recycling of materials through the process of decay makes sure the soil remains fertile and plants can grow

Conditions for Decay

  • Warm Temperature
    • High temperature destroys decaying organisms and low temperatures slow the rate of reactions of enzymes which prevents the growth and reproduction. So warm temperatures will allows the decay to grow
  • Oxygen
    • Oxygen is…


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