Detritus Food Chain

Detritus food chain is the type of food chain that starts with dead organic materials. The dead organic substances are decomposed by microorganisms. The organisms that feed on dead organic matter or detritus, are known as detritivores or decomposers. These detritivores are later eaten by predators. In the detritus food chain, the excreted products by one organism is utilized by another organism.

Implications of Detritus Food Chain

  • Detritus food chain is not limited to single habitat, as it is found in several different locations like the bottom of lakes and oceans. These locations are too dark to carry the process of photosynthesis. Therefore, the ecosystems of the detritus food chain are rarely dependent on solar energy.
  • Detritus food chain has continuous energy flow compared to other food chains. For instance, in the grazing food chain, there is a distinct transfer of energy flow between different trophic levels.
  • Energy for this type of food chain is from the dead and decomposed matter known as detritus.
  • This type of food chain acquires energy from detritus, utilizing the detritus to its fullest, with minimum wastage.
  • The detritus food chain helps in solving inorganic nutrients.
  • Detritus food chain includes sub soil species that can be macroscopic or microscopic in nature.
  • Compared to other kinds of food chains, the detritus food chain has much larger energy flow in a terrestrial ecosystem.

Examples of Detritus

  1. Detritus food chain can be explained with an example of the leaves of a mangrove tree. When the leaves of a red mangrove tree fall into a shallow water body, only about five percent of the leaves are eaten by phytophagous insects before they fall.

    The parts of the leaves are eaten by smaller organisms like insect larvae, crabs, copepods, etc. Later these organisms are consumed by fishes who are carnivores. Finally these fishes are eaten by larger fishes or fish-eating birds.

  2. Another example of a detritus food chain is when dead organic waste is consumed by microscopic organisms like bacteria or fungi. Later, these microscopic organisms are consumed by other detritivore organisms like snails, earthworms and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions on Detritus food chain


What do detritus food chains begin with?

The detritus food chain begins with detritus like dead organic matter, fallen leaves, etc.


Who are the primary consumers in the detritus food chain?

The primary consumers in a detritus food chain are known as detritivores. For example, bacteria, fungi, protozoans, etc.


What trophic level is detritus?

The detritus is considered the first trophic level.

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