Towards Quantifying Carrion Biomass in Ecosystems

Philip S. Barton, Maldwyn J. Evans, Claire N. Foster, Jennifer L. Pechal, Joseph K. Bump, M. Martina Quaggiotto, M. Eric Benbow

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Scopus citations


The decomposition of animal biomass (carrion) contributes to the recycling of energy and nutrients through ecosystems. Whereas the role of plant decomposition in ecosystems is broadly recognised, the significance of carrion to ecosystem functioning remains poorly understood. Quantitative data on carrion biomass are lacking and there is no clear pathway towards improved knowledge in this area. Here, we present a framework to show how quantities derived from individual carcasses can be scaled up using population metrics, allowing for comparisons among ecosystems and other forms of biomass. Our framework facilitates the generation of new data that is critical to building a quantitative understanding of the contribution of carrion to trophic processes and ecosystem stocks and flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-961
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019



  • animal
  • biogeochemical cycling
  • carcass
  • decomposer
  • decomposition
  • detritus
  • necrobiome
  • necromass
  • scavenger

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

Cite this

Barton, P. S., Evans, M. J., Foster, C. N., Pechal, J. L., Bump, J. K., Quaggiotto, M. M., & Benbow, M. E. (2019). Towards Quantifying Carrion Biomass in Ecosystems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 34(10), 950-961.