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Question 1: Saprobes vs Detrivores


OK, I was reviewing for my Bio, and all the sudden I was very confused between the difference between saprobes and detritivores.

I looked it up the definition, but am not sure if the difference is clear enough to me:

Saprobe: an organism that acts as a decomposer by absorbing nutrients from dead organic matter.

Detritivore: A consumer that derives its energy from nonliving organic materal.

(From Campbell's Biology international edition textbook)

So... is saprobe something that actually breaks a dead organic matter down, while a detritivore is something that doesn't necessarily break it down but just suck the nutrients out of the dead thing?

From Hee Kyung


Answer: (Wesley)

Ok, I think I have figured this one out.

Saprobe: The traditional mushroom-type organism. I think you know that one.

Detrivore: An organism that gets it's nutrients from non-living organic material.

All Saprobes are Detrivores, but not all Detrivores are Saprobes. That is why it is confusing. Organic material, by defintion, is anything with carbon in it. That way, anything that eats non-living carbon is a detrivore. I think this needs examples:
Detrivores that are not Saprobes:
Anything that lives off pure sugar (lots of bacteria).
Anything that lives off of oil.

The difference is tiny, but it is there.