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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur
  • Explain how human activities have impacted these cycles and the resulting potential consequences for Earth

Energy flows directionally through ecosystems, entering as sunlight (or inorganic molecules for chemoautotrophs) and leaving as heat during the transfers between trophic levels. Rather than flowing through an ecosystem, the matter that makes up living organisms is conserved and recycled. The six most common elements associated with organic molecules—carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur—take a variety of chemical forms and may exist for long periods in the atmosphere, on land, in water, or beneath Earth’s surface. Geologic processes, such as weathering, erosion, water drainage, and the subduction of the continental plates, all play a role in the cycling of elements on Earth. Because geology and chemistry have major roles in the study of this process, the recycling of inorganic matter between living organisms and their nonliving environment is called a biogeochemical cycle    .

Water, which contains hydrogen and oxygen, is essential to all living processes. The hydrosphere    is the area of Earth where water movement and storage occurs: as liquid water on the surface (rivers, lakes, oceans) and beneath the surface (groundwater) or ice, (polar ice caps and glaciers), and as water vapor in the atmosphere. Carbon is found in all organic macromolecules and is an important constituent of fossil fuels. Nitrogen is a major component of our nucleic acids and proteins and is critical to human agriculture. Phosphorus, a major component of nucleic acids, is one of the main ingredients (along with nitrogen) in artificial fertilizers used in agriculture, which has environmental impacts on our surface water. Sulfur, critical to the three-dimensional folding of proteins (as in disulfide binding), is released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels.

The cycling of these elements is interconnected. For example, the movement of water is critical for the leaching of nitrogen and phosphate into rivers, lakes, and oceans. The ocean is also a major reservoir for carbon. Thus, mineral nutrients are cycled, either rapidly or slowly, through the entire biosphere between the biotic and abiotic world and from one living organism to another.

Concept in action

Head to this website to learn more about biogeochemical cycles.

The water cycle

Water is essential for all living processes. The human body is more than one-half water and human cells are more than 70 percent water. Thus, most land animals need a supply of fresh water to survive. Of the stores of water on Earth, 97.5 percent is salt water ( [link] ). Of the remaining water, 99 percent is locked as underground water or ice. Thus, less than one percent of fresh water is present in lakes and rivers. Many living things are dependent on this small amount of surface fresh water supply, a lack of which can have important effects on ecosystem dynamics. Humans, of course, have developed technologies to increase water availability, such as digging wells to harvest groundwater, storing rainwater, and using desalination to obtain drinkable water from the ocean. Although this pursuit of drinkable water has been ongoing throughout human history, the supply of fresh water continues to be a major issue in modern times.

Questions & Answers

what is economic integration
Mohamed Reply
why does it makes sense to let the sewage disposal company in your town have a monopoly?
Janice Reply
how might a monopoly affect price?
Janice
how might a monopoly affect prices?
Janice
The principle of Economic is one to be involved in any economic buying substance
Anastassiya Reply
reason of corporation
Mohamed
What is economic integration
Mohamed
what are the principle of economics?
oche Reply
What is (Qs)
Bigi Reply
What is (Qs) and (Qd)
Bigi
Quantity of supply and Quantity of demand
Dilshoda
Qs: Is quantity of supply and Qd: quantity of demand
Cabdikariim
give as me quantitys
ahmed
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oche
i science that studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarcity that have alternative uses
ousman
okay......
oche
what are the principle of economics?
oche
what Make things scarce
Soudani Reply
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Soudani
for the stability and growth of any reign.
Fayaz
what is macro economics.?
Fayaz
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Fayaz
what is economic integration
Mohamed
how does economics define me
clement Reply
what are the factors that determines the demand and supply
sillah
what are the importance of Economics
Betty Reply
tell me something very important about economics..
Fayaz Reply
how may I solve arithmetic mean ,,,all example
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what is agriculture
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simple method of understanding cost concept
Oludare Reply
what is inflation
Christiana Reply
Inflation is a general increase in price levels
Zuko
is the action of inflating something
Abdifatah
inflation is the persistent increase in general price level of goods and services in an economy over a considerable period of time .
Tetteh
inflation is the general increase of a commodity in a particular period of time.
Turay
inflation is a general increase in price levels of commodities
shehu
what are the types of inflation?
Ebrima
inflation is the period of persistent rise in the general level of the price of goods services over time
Emmanuel
we have creeping inflation, demand pull inflation ,cost push inflation, and galloping inflation .
Emmanuel
I s Nigeria in any kind of in inflation? If yes which kind?
Martins
please can someone help me with the principles of economic?
Jonathan
and u
ahmed
no discassion just question
Aliraza
what is science and art economic
Sadanu
how can a location of a firm create difference between producers
joy Reply
what is monetary policy
joy
hello
Abdifatah
is a monetary from policy that's authorized of country encharces
Abdifatah
What would you say about the the mobility of enterprise as a factor of production?
Cathryn Reply
Difference between extinct and extici spicies
Amanpreet Reply
in a comparison of the stages of meiosis to the stage of mitosis, which stages are unique to meiosis and which stages have the same event in botg meiosis and mitosis
Leah Reply
Researchers demonstrated that the hippocampus functions in memory processing by creating lesions in the hippocampi of rats, which resulted in ________.
Mapo Reply
The formulation of new memories is sometimes called ________, and the process of bringing up old memories is called ________.
Mapo Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Environmental biology. OpenStax CNX. Aug 10, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11863/1.1
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