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An organism that lives on decaying organic matter.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also saprobiont), a plant or animal that inhabits waters that are to some degree contaminated with organic matter. Polysaprobes inhabit severely contaminated waters, meso-saprobes moderately contaminated waters, and oligosaprobes slightly contaminated waters. The composition and quantity of saprobes and the structure of their communities serve as criteria for evaluating the degree of contamination of bodies of water by enterprises that process natural organic raw material. The ability of saprobes to mineralize the the organic matter of contamination promotes the self-purification of water, especially sewage water. (SeeBIOLOGICAL SEWAGE TREATMENT.)


Zernov, S. A. Obshchaia gidrobiologiia, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Telitchenko, M. M., and K. A. Kokin. Sanitarnaia gidrobiologiia. Moscow, 1968.
Liebmann, H. Handbuch der Frischwasser- und Abwasser-Biologie, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Munich, 1962. M. M. Telitchenko
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.