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  • Plant decomposition
Priority 3

Life & Death[edit]

What essential change stops the living from decomposing? I guess that while alive renewal does the trick, but, is that alone? Then why the living aint considered to be "decomposing at a slower rate"? Exactly what's the trick? The on/off process?Undead Herle King (talk) 09:10, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

For one thing, the body has all sorts of defenses built in to keep it from being attacked by outside bacteria, bugs, etc. and to keep the ones inside in check. When death occurs, these defenses and checks fail (obviously), so the bugs and germs are free to accomplish their objectives. mike4ty4 (talk) 02:08, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Non-human decomposition[edit]

I agree with what has been said thus far. It seems that the topic of Decompostition is very wide and to try to include plant, fruit, and human is too much. The information on body decay however is great and informative. My suggestion is to mention body/animal decay on this page, but add a link to your own page that gives a more in depth analysis of human decomposition maybe with mention of faunal successions. Also, from there you could add an external link to Environmental Effects of Forensic Entomology as it pertains to effects on fauna. Mari2111 (talk) 07:14, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

This article should cover all forms decomposition, such as plants and animals, not just humans. -- Kjkolb 07:09, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Although this might be a good idea, I deo not think this justifies the significant reduction of content in the 'Decomposition process'-section. 14:27, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I agree - Dave
  • I also agree. I came here looking for wood decay, and fungi is not even mentioned, so I will link that term as a start. I suppose separate sections for plant and animal decomposition would make sense - maybe a link to compost also. Spalding 16:35, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

It really should cover more, such as fruit spoilage, etc. I mean you have the pictures but not the info. Denisse P.

Just did a copyedit, and also found that the article feels topheavy, with a total focus on animal decomposition (mostly human which is not surprising) and almost a complete glossing over on plant decomposition. I don't feel I have the expertise to write the missing section but here's some resources I found: --Fuhghettaboutit 08:19, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Revolutionary idea. Make a wiki page titled "Plant Decomposition" and add it in there. Chance Gearheart, EMT-IV

You could just as easily argue that animal decomposition should be under Animal Decomposition. I think the idea here is to give a balanced, perhaps brief account of each type of decomposition. Each type could then be elaborated in their own article. `Zozart .chat 07:21, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the processes that happen to plants as they decompose, for the most part, happen to animal bodies as well-- nutrients are leached out and organisms shred the material. The reverse is not true. A separate page on animal decomposition, having most of the info found here, would be fitting. 16:37, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Adding info on fungi, etcetera, would jumble the references section between info on plant decomposition, and detailed references on the decomposition of animals. The sections on animals do not, and probably should not, go into the ecological detail about the importance of the process of decomposition. The section on animal decomposition alone can be expanded to a very long article, probably, so I strongly suggest that we move most of this info to Animal decomposition leaving a few sentances and a link from here to there. 16:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC) I also realize that there is a compost article. The compost and the composting article together are very informative and long, but do not have anything about the processes of decomposition in nature, nor is that probably where that info belongs. The best solution, I think, is to have Animal decomposition be a new article, and for the proper info to go here.i love connor. he is cute.


"In sufficiently dry environments, an embalmed body may end up mummified." - what about mummies found in glaciers? (clem 18:41, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC))

  • Looks like it's already been fixed -- 01:47 GMT 26 November 2005
  • When you think about it, glaciers could be considered dry since they don't have much liquid water, couldn't they?
*Well antarctica is the driest place on the planet and i'm sure there's plenty of glaciers there so yeah

Miroku Sanna 16:55, 24 December 2005 (UTC)


Pickling, sucrating, salting, drying and freezing are other ways to preserve biological matter, usually used to preserve food. Embalming is just one kind of preserving. The section should be called "Preservation" and embalming should be a sub-section. -Pgan002 23:21, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

decomposition in plants = compost ?[edit]

Is the definition of biological decomposition here too narrow in confining it to only dead organisms? For example, decomposition is quite common in living trees (see CODIT). I believe decay is the more common term for pre-mortem decomposition, but presently decay simply links here, so the Plants section should probably be expanded to include some discussion of decay in living plants, maybe with "For decomposition in non-living plants, see compost" at the end. I'm not really sure on the distinctions of decay vs. decomposition, or how decay works in any plants other than trees, so if anyone else knows more about this, it'd be great if they could add it. If not, I'll add what I can.--Severinus 23:37, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Decay of plants is incredibly far from being the same as the compost article. The compost article is about composting, and has no information on the natural processes of decomposition and how they drive ecosystems. I think that this information is the stuff most directly connected to the term "decomposition" especially from an ecology standpoint. I vote that animal decomposition get its own separate page, who agrees? 21:49, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

I just subordinated the animal headings under Animal decomposition for now. I think the current setup will work if someone wants to expand the Plant decomposition section. Separate articles would also be fine. I'll add a sentence or two clarifying compost's place in plant decomposition.Spalding 23:40, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

What does a dead, decomposing body smell like?[edit]

Just wondering. Can anyone with experience whith this tell me in detail? 00:00, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

You walk into a Butcher's shop, what do you smell? Dep. Garcia ( Talk + | Help Desk | Complaints ) 09:14, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

It doesn't smell like a butchers. Decomposing (human) bodies exude a cloying, sweet odour. Chunner (talk) 21:41, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Does anybody know what the condition is called when a human body does not decay after death? I know a lot of Catholic saints have this condition and are put on display to be viewed by the public. What is it called?

It's called incorruptability. I added a link to with a ref on the page.


This could probably be rated B-class if it had any references in it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:06, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

"Incorruptibles" is one term used to describe this phenomenon. Here is a link. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:07, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

factors affecting decomposition[edit]

A group of entomology students is writing an article on wikipedia entitled "Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition." It is an depth look at the changes occured during decomposition including arthropod and insect succession. I really liked the fators affecting decomposition section in this article and think it would really round out our page. Any chance you think merging these articles into one well developed topic about decomposition is a good idea? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Amandamartinez06 (talkcontribs) 05:05, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I feel that it is to soon to contemplate such a merge. I would like to see the outcome of the Merge[1] of Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition and Forensic Entomology. As far as I can see FE:SoD deals strictly with the decomposition of animal matter and nothing else. This is a simpler yet broader Article as it currently stands. Just my opinion though, others may differ. Exit2DOS2000TC 06:08, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I completely agree with Amanda- the other article is a mess, and cannot stand alone as its own article, but contains elements that may well benefit from a merge here. I have tagged both pages. J Milburn (talk) 00:46, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Um. There is one more similar page titled Stages of Decomposition. My suggestion is to rename Stages of decomposition to Animal decomposition. It would be an expansion(WP:Summary style) of the animal decomposition section in this article. The Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition article would then be merged into the Animal decomposition article under its own section called "Animal decomposition in forensic entomology". If that section gets too large, then it can be moved into it's own article called Animal decomposition in forensic entomology. -- (talk) 04:43, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

In the section about Black Putrifaction the last two sentences begin talking about a case study or something like that. They could either be expanded or removed for easier understanding. Also, I am unaware of the "wiki rules" on photos of actual decomposition but being this is an encyclopedia one would think pictures of the actual stages of decomposition should be provided. In the section Factors, would soil type (acidity, texture, density) not be a factor? It is mentioned in the text but not in the list. Crosenbalm (talk) 15:51, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


Our purpose in writing the Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition article was to show the link between insect fauna and human decomposition, particularly in the field of forensics. Although our pictures of the decomposition stages are of animals, (we did not want to provide pictures of decomposing human beings) we are trying to fully keep the HUMAN and FORENSIC aspect. We have some very specific data that only pertains to insect colonization on humans and certain animal species that are colonized in a very similar fashion. The general stages of decomposition are the same for animals, TRUE. However, colonization can differ hugely, as well as the factors affecting decomposition. As well, there are some aspects of human decomposition that is irrelevant in animal decomposition (livor mortis, algor mortis).

I think the best way to resolve this is to have one article for general animal decomposition and physical/chemical properties(insect colonization not necessary) , and one for human decomposition in relation to forensics and insect colonization. I don't think its best to lump human decomposition in with animal decomposition because forensics is a hugely important aspect that must be explored. --Amandamartinez06 (talk) 23:54, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

May I suggest that another 'Layer' be added to the top of what you are suggesting. A general overview article on Decomposition, sub-divided and with {{seealso}}'s or {{main}}'s could then bring Browning (chemical process) and other such articles under 1 Umbrella topic, as they are found/written. This is a large topic that cannot be done justice as a single article, as a Merge would do. I feel as a student specializing on the topic, some editors are making this Article unreadable for the average grade 8 student, whom we must take into consideration. My feelings are partially drawn from here. Exit2DOS2000TC 02:26, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments, the stages of decomposition in humans has been added as a sub-subject. let me know if i can do anything else to make Decomposition the best! --heartbreaker5785 (talk)

Arbitrary break

I don't quite get the difference between Stages of decomposition and Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition. The first article is about humans as clearly stated in the lead. The second article doesn't state that but from Amandamartinez06 reply above, we know it is about humans. Are the two articles not about the same thing?--Dodo bird (talk) 00:24, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, it was approved for both of our groups to write about the Stages of Decomposition. When we had discussed it with Adrienne, we mentioned we would include the insects present and other factors affecting decomposition in addition to general how a body decomposes. What I was responding to above, was the notion that we should name our article "Animal Decomposition." Which is not accurate in explaining our topic with its relationship to forensics. Basically, we have ended up with two competing articles that basically have the same information said in a different way. Which is a problem since part of our project is explaining to the wikipedia community why our article deserves to stay. The only thing our group can do at this point for Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition is try to see where we can make our article more unique and specific. Which is what we are continuing to work on. Sorry for any misunderstandings.--Amandamartinez06 (talk) 00:06, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Forgive me for being bold, but I believe you are missing the point we are trying to show you. You keep refering to "we mentioned we would include" & "our project" & "our article". This is not a competition or a school project. The Article has a place in Wikipedia, but I believe that it should be positioned better and then streamlined for that position. I (personally) do not believe it should be the 'Top of the Pile' Article. I feel that Decomposition should be the Top Article, with other Articles refered to from it. Also, the nameing of Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition should be thought about since there are already Forensic Entomology & Stages of Decomposition Articles. Might your efforts do better on improving either of thoes Articles? Or, if you wish Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition to do better, streamline it to better fill a 'Gap' in the information already present. What I guese I am getting at, is, where do you believe FE:SoD should belong? Exit2DOS2000TC 07:37, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't mind you being honest. I'm sorry for all the "we's" and project mentioning. I don't make decisions on the article without my group being informed. We have been struggling to find the right place for it and we know it has something to offer on wikipedia. We are currently discussing re-naming it or finding a place for it in a related forensic section. Suggestions on its placement with related forensic pages would be appreciated. --Amandamartinez06 (talk) 09:03, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Just my $0.02, but, I think a Smerge is what is required. (a selective merge) The group you are involved in is highly knowledgable and many articles could use the benefits of that knowledge. May I suggest breaking relevent parts of FE:SoD into:

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Exit2DOS2000 (talkcontribs)

Arbitrary break 2

Um, so "Stages of decomposition" has been copied over here and "Forensic Entomology: Stages of Decomposition" has been moved to "Forensic Entomological Decomposition", but the content overlap remains. How about renaming "Forensic Entomological Decomposition" to "Human decomposition" and cut down the info here(in the human decomposition section) into just a brief summary and point readers to that article. The language would of course have to be reworded as forensic entomology would become a sub-topic rather than the focus point, but the content should remain relatively unchanged.--Dodo bird (talk) 00:53, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for giving us your suggestions. The article's name was changed to stress the fact that this article targets what is important in the field of forensic entomology. Decomposition is addressed here, but the article is narrowing the view of decomposition and getting to deeper information about its use in forensics. Merging this article with decomposition would be like merging Dermestidae and Megaselia scalaris with Insecta just because they are insects. The name could change again to Human Decomposition, but that wouldn’t address the article as a whole.

--Sadiezapalac (talk) 00:53, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:School and university projects peer review[edit]

I generally feel that this article could have been written a little better. The grammar is incorrect in many spots and the sentences are short and choppy. I think that if you made the article flow better within each section than you will have an even more fabulous article than you already have. To make it flow, add in some ,and's and some semi-colon's; they can do wonders!!!megan —Preceding unsigned comment added by Megalatta (talkcontribs) 21:20, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

In the Insect activity section, it seems when you say that the " insects begin with Calliphoridae and include" that Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera are part of the Calliphoridae, maybe you guys can reword that sentence. Good article, choppy at times. Good job guys.! Agbetty (talk) 11:01, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

This article was one of the most informative articles that I read and it was very interesting. The only draw back that I have is that a picture for each stage of decay would be beneficial because it would really show in an image, what you are trying to describe with words. cinco0513 —Preceding comment was added at 16:16, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

title reads "decompositionmerged".... put a space in there! Otherwise great job wt few grammatical errors. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mcarriker5 (talkcontribs) 11:34, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

I really enjoyed this article. It was very informative and covered a plethora of information without being boring or sounding too much like a term paper. This is definitely one of the few articles out of the entire class that looks and reads like a complete wikipedia article. That picture of the peach is absolutely awesome! It would be nice to see more interesting pictures of decomposition. I think that it was a good idea to merge the two articles. Great job! Pinksugar85 (talk) 23:09, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

I liked this article because i felt there was quite a bit of information presented. I like how yall listed the different types of decomposition to let the audience know the difference. I too liked the pictures yall presented. great job —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dustinray52 (talkcontribs) 01:31, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

I didn't like the definition of decomposition (spoilage). Not only "living things" can decompose. Plants, fruits, and many other things can also decompose. It would be great if pictures of decomposed bodies were present. The defenition dosn't go with the decomposed fruit that is present, put the picture in its place. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Melgo87 (talkcontribs) 02:39, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Very well layed out and organized! I love the animated rotting peach showing decomposition, but I almost wonder if it is in the right section. The picture of the ants on the snake are great also! The only suggestion I have is, if possible, try to find pictures of each stage of decay to go along with the great descriptions of each. Overall great article! :) Briteny 05 (talk) 03:27, 18 April 2008 (UTC)briteny_05

This article was great. I believe to enhance the reader it would have been great to add case studies to show readers like myself the actuality...(Lice2008 (talk) 17:09, 18 April 2008 (UTC))

How long does it take?[edit]

I can't seem to find out how long it takes for a human body to decompose (including bones). I understand that there is a lot of factors involved that affect the time needed, but some average numbers would be nice. I'd especially like to know how long it takes for an average buried body. (talk) 01:46, 12 July 2008 (UTC)


Spoil is a verb to let decay —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:06, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Quality Scale[edit]

I think the article should be C-ClassUs441 (talk) 23:22, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Black Putrification - starts on rupture?[edit]

The text states the Black Putrification stage starts when the cavity ruptures and the gas escapes. What happens if the cavity was already ruptured to begin with? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:32, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Lifecycle of Gases[edit]

I was looking for the kinds of gases that are released into the atmosphere as a result of organic matter's decomposition (such as methane). Can somone add typical gases that are released from animals and from plants. Also, what about decomposition of organic matter in landfills, etc. (talk) 19:10, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

block quote removal[edit]

I removed the following block quote, a simple copy & paste of an abstract, because it seems to give undue importance and unwarranted specificity without offering clarity (eg. Mégnin’s system is not defined). I'm not arguing mites are unimportant to the decomposition process, but enumerating subtaxa without giving equivalent treatment to other taxa seems unbalanced. If someone would like to rewrite and integrate a selection from the study into the article, by all means please do (keeping in mind that some parts may be more appropriate in mites or Acari rather than here). A general summary of the faunal turnover (of all species) in decomposer communities might be useful, but single-study results may be too narrow in scope. --Animalparty-- (talk) 00:26, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

"Mites are involved in the decomposition of animal carcases and human corpses at every stage. From initial decay at the fresh stage until dry decomposition at the skeletal stage, a huge diversity of Acari, including members of the Mesostigmata, Prostigmata, Astigmata, Endeostigmata, Oribatida and Ixodida, are an integral part of the constantly changing food webs on, in and beneath the carrion. During the desiccation stage in wave 6 of Mégnin’s system, mites can become the dominant fauna on the decomposing body. Under conditions unfavourable for the colonisation of insects, such as concealment, low temperature or mummification, mites might become the most important or even the only arthropods on a dead body. Some mite species will be represented by a few specimens, whereas others might build up in numbers to several million individuals. Astigmata are most prominent in numbers and Mesostigmata in diversity. More than 100 mite species and over 60 mite families were collected from animal carcases, and around 75 species and over 20 families from human corpses." - Henk R. Braig; M. Alejandra Perotti [2]

Moved section to keep information about decomposition of bodies together[edit]

I have just moved a large section and given it a more precide heading as it really deals with "Factors affecting decomposition of bodies" rather than decomposition in general. One could even move this heading one level down so that it sits under "decomposition of animals". I have also added a new section on "Rate of decomposition". This is content moved from the article on ecosystems and applies to any type of decomposition.EMsmile (talk) 14:53, 18 March 2018 (UTC)