Shelf fungus and goldsmith beetles are two of the most common decomposers found in the temperate forest. Decomposers feed off decaying matter or consume the wastes produced by living organisms.
Shelf fungus decomposes trees and uses the rotten wood as a source of food. This type of fungi produces spores above the ground. Beetles, mites, spiders and other insects use the shelf fungus as a form of shelter.
Once shelf fungus infects a tree, there is no way to kill it. This fungus causes a significant amount of damage if it spreads to multiple trees in the forest, but it may be possible to save surrounding trees if the infected trees are removed quickly.
Goldsmith beetles have egg-shaped bodies. They have a metallic gold tint on the top of their bodies, which are either yellow or green. As larvae, goldsmith beetles eat rotting logs and tree roots. Adults eat leaves from several different types of trees, including willow, poplar, oak and hickory.
Bacteria, slugs, worms and snails are also examples of decomposers. Although these organisms eat waste or decaying matter, they are an important part of the food web. When a decomposer breaks down decaying matter, nutrients enter the surrounding soil. Plants rely on these nutrients for growth. If plants are unable to survive, animals will also die.