Decomposers in grassland: Role and types

Decomposers in grassland


Decomposers in grassland refer to the microorganisms of the grassland region that decomposed the animal’s and plant’s bodies. Grassland is an area where different types of plants, animals, and microorganisms live and they are related to each other. All the animals present in grassland depend on plants for food. And decomposers depend on the carcasses of plants and animals for food.

Different types of organisms live in different environments of the earth. So grassland also has different species of organisms. A grassland is made up of its biotic and abiotic components. Decomposers belong to the biotic component of the grassland region. They are the final consumers of the biotic community.

Biotic factors are elements derived from an organism’s activity. Grassland is a flat and expanding region. A large species of organisms live here. All their species depend on each other for survival. When all these species die over time, their dead bodies are decomposed by some of the microorganisms present in the grassland. All these microorganisms are decomposers of the grassland. Below is a discussion of decomposers in grassland (1) & (4).

What is a grassland?

Grassland is a terrestrial region on the earth. It is a large, flat, and open area on the earth that is covered with different types of grasses. This region is specially used for grazing. Decomposers are also the primary components of this region. Grassland’s soil fertility is increased by these decomposers.

This region is present in almost every continent of the world. Its location is on the inner part of a continent. Grassland is mainly dominated by different types of grass. This region is observed in places around the world where the annual rainfall is about 50 to 100 cm (2).

Some properties of grassland

1. This region covers 30 to 50% of the earth’s surface.

2. Any woody plants cannot be seen here.

3. The grass in this region grows fast due to heavy rainfall.

4. There are a variety of different types of animals present in this region.

5. A grassland region grows different types of grasses, such as tor grass, blue moor-grass.

6. Grasslands have developed mainly in temperate regions.

7. Mainly two seasons are observed in this region such as summer and winter.

8. This region is located in an area where the amount of rainfall is higher than in the desert but less than the forest.

9. The grass is the main natural vegetation in the region.

10. Here the temperature in summer can be as high as 37°C and temperatures can drop -40°F during the winter (3).

Decomposers in grassland

Definition of decomposer

Decomposers are the microorganism who break down the complex organic matter into inorganic substances like water, carbon dioxide, and other nutrients.

There are some decomposers who can convert compound food into simple elements and return them to nature. So decomposers play an essential role in the grassland region.

These decomposers break down the complex chemical compounds in the protoplasm of plants and animals using some of them for their own needs. And releases the rest into the natural environment as inorganic salts. Producers or green plants use those salts for food production. And these decomposers also increase soil fertility (3).

Features of decomposers

1. They are saprophytic such as bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes.

2. Decomposers are also regarded as micro consumers.

3. They are actually parasites but they depend on organic matter for food.

4. These types of organisms are so delicate that they are not visible to the naked eye. They can be seen with the help of a microscope.

5. Decomposers can break down complex food into simple food.

6. These organisms carry out the process of decomposition, which is carried on even after the death of all living things.

7. Decomposers get their energy from ingesting organic material (2) & (3).

Decomposer in grassland

They are also the biotic factors that decompose dead plants and consumers into simple chemicals. There are various types of decomposers found in this region. These are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Rhizopus, Penicillium, and Mucor, etc. Dead plants and the consumer’s body are decomposed by the actinomycetes and some aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that are present in this region.

Although some species are more abundant than others, bacteria, fungi, earthworms, and some insects all play a decaying role in grassland.

1. Bacteria

  • They are the key decomposers of this region.
  • The main bacteria are known as acidobacteria.
  • Their large number allows them to colonize the soil of a dwelling.
  • Various types of bacteria are found in this grassland. Rhyzobium is one of them. They live in nodules on the roots of leguminous plants, where they convert nitrogen to the compounds. These compounds are used by plants.

2. Fungi

In arid climates such as grassland, the low moisture content of the soil tends to allow fungi to spread less than decaying bacteria. However, the fungi still act as decay in places like oak savannah, lowa. When these plants fall, they provide some species of fungi to break down, including Sarcoscypha dudleyi, laetiporus sulphureus and trametes versicolor or turkey tail mushroom.

3. Insects

There are various types of insects present in the grassland region. These are beetles, locusts, flies etc. All these insects at first decompose the plant’s and animal’s bodies. Thus, after the bodies of plants and animals have been decomposed, the various minerals present in their bodies are released into the environment. In this way, soil fertility also increases.

4. Earthworms

In addition to bacteria, fungi, and insects, some types of earthworms are found in this region. They lived in the soil. Grassland’s climate is ideal for surviving all these earthworms. These earthworms are pheretima, megascolecidae, eudrilidae, eiseniona, etc. Their main function is to increase soil fertility (1) & (4).

Role of decomposer in grassland

They are the main microorganisms in this region. As a result of their various activities, all biogeochemical cycles are maintained in the environment. They break down the complex food in the protoplasm of producers and consumers using some of them for their own needs. And releases the inorganic salts into the environment. Producers or green plants use those salts for food production. So they are also the primary biotic components in a region.

Most of the decomposers are saprophytes but some parasites are also found. The decomposers either live in the soil layer underneath the water or in the mud. They act on the dead and decayed organic matter of plants and animals and supply the raw materials to the producers (2).


1. B Agarwal and V. K. Agarwal. Unified Botany, B.Sc. second Year. Shiva Lal Agarwal & Company Publications, Indore. Chapter: Ecosystem. Page no- 253 to 279.

2. Chandrasekhar Chakrabarti. Modern approach to a textbook of core Zoology, General & Honours. Nirmala library, A Publishing House under the Prestigious International Standard Book Number (ISBN) System. Kolkata, (India). Part – I, chapter- Ecology. Page: 1st. 25.1 to 1st. 25.1.

Written By: Manisha Bharati