Difference Between Scavenger and Decomposer

Scavenger vs Decomposer

Producers, consumers, and decomposers are the three most important components in an ecosystem. Scavengers start the decomposing process and facilitate the real decomposing. They are essential components of any ecosystem in recycling of resources. In simple terms, the world would be an unpleasant garbage dump without scavengers and decomposers. They clean all the leftover food materials in ecosystems. Scavengers and decomposers mainly function as cleaners, but their respective roles are different. This article discusses some of those differences.


Scavenging is a feeding behaviour in which an animal feeds on either dead animal or dead plant matter. Scavengers are the animals with scavenging habits. Scavengers’ role is vital for the ecosystem as they contribute to the decomposition, while decomposers and detritus feeders are responsible for completing the process. Scavengers do not spend energy to kill their prey, but they sense the smell of food on which they can feed. Vultures, Burying beetle, Raccoons, Jackals, and Hyenas are some prime examples for animal scavengers. Termites and earthworms are good examples for plant scavengers. While the scavengers act on the dead animals and plants, they break them in to small pieces of organic materials. Thus, scavengers start the decomposing process. In addition, big helpers for the decomposition process are the scavengers, while detritus feeders are the small helpers.


Decomposition is a process that small organisms act on dead plants and animals biomass to convert those into molecular levels. Decomposers are the organisms that contribute to the decomposition process. Fungi are the primary decomposers in a forest, while bacteria are also good examples. They are microscopic more often than not. However, the dead matter has to be exposed for bacteria to be able to act upon, while fungi can decompose any dead biomass because of their penetrability. Apart from that, enzymes to decompose lignin in wood are present only in fungi. Decomposers release the organic and inorganic molecules in the form of nutrients for the plants and animals. This process is vital for the recycling of the resources inside an ecosystem.

What’s the difference between Scavenger and Decomposer?

An anonymous author tried to explain their importance by quoting that scavengers and decomposers are the unsung heroes of recycling. Following are the main differences between those two.

• Scavengers start the decomposing process, while decomposers finish it.

• The scavengers are large animals, but decomposers are more often microorganisms. However, fungi come in different sizes.

• Scavengers facilitate a good decomposition by exposing interior matter to the outside by removing the skin, keratin layers, and scales of animals and barks of plants.

• Scavengers break down the large dead materials into smaller particles but decomposers breakdown those particles into molecular level.

• Scavengers facilitate food for decomposers, while decomposers facilitate nutrients for plants and animals.