detritivore [%PREMIUM_LINK%] (dĭ-trī'tə-vôr') Pronunciation Key |
An organism that feeds on and breaks down dead plant or animal matter, returning essential nutrients to the ecosystem. Detritivores include microorganisms such as bacteria and protists as well as larger organisms such as fungi, insects, worms, and isopod crustaceans. In a food chain, detritivores are primary consumers. Compare carnivore, herbivore.