detrital pathway

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detrital pathway (detritus food chain) A food chain in which the living primary producers (green plants) are not consumed by grazing herbivores but eventually form detritus on which detritivores feed, with subsequent energy transfer to carnivores (e.g. the pathway: leaf-litter → earthworm → blackbird → sparrowhawk). Detritus from organisms at higher trophic levels than green plants may also form the basis of a detrital pathway, but the key distinction between detrital and grazing pathways lies in the fate of the primary producers.

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detrital pathway(detritus food-chain) Most simply, a food-chain in which the living primary producers (green plants) are not consumed by grazing herbivores, but eventually form litter (detritus) on which decomposers (micro-organisms) and detritivores feed, with subsequent energy transfer to various levels of carnivore (e.g. the pathway: leaf litter → earthworm → blackbird → sparrowhawk). Detritus from organisms at higher trophic levels than green plants may also form the basis for a detrital pathway, but the key distinction between this and a grazing pathway lies in the fate of the primary producers.

views updated

detrital pathway (detritus food-chain) Most simply, a food-chain in which the living primary producers (green plants) are not consumed by grazing herbivores, but eventually form litter (detritus) on which decomposers (microorganisms) and detritivores feed, with subsequent energy transfer to various levels of carnivore. Detritus from organisms at higher trophic levels than green plants may also form the basis for a detrital pathway, but the key distinction between this and a grazing pathway lies in the fate of the primary producers.