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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

state and explainfour function of a costumer service
Egba Reply
the circular flow model of the economy is a simplification showing how the economy works and the relationship between income,production and spending in the economy as a whole
Anna Reply
what is circular flow
Ntokozo Reply
what is economics?
Dorcas Reply
Economics is defined as the science that study human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Emmanuella
economics is a social science concerned with the production,distribution, and consumption of goods and services
Michael
in 2021 Amazon reduced the annual subscription fee for its prime membership service which provides free two_day shipping on many goods and other benefits, from $119 to $99. Zoppa consulting, an investment firm estimated that before the price reduction, prime had 62million subscribers globally. If so, what is the arc elasticity of demand for a prime membership.
Joan Reply
Differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics
tatiana Reply
Macroeconomics deal with the economy as a whole.that is an economy affect the firm ,government and the households eg.unemployment, whilst Microeconomics deal with the the decision making of households,firm and government separately.
Amah
what is Economics
Ebem Reply
the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth and has Influence by sociology!!!!
Ajay
Economics is the study of how humans make decisions when they want to fulfil their requirements and desires for goods, services and resources.
Abdullah
Economics is the study how humans make decisions in the faces of scarcity.
Rose
economic is the study of how human make decision in the fact of scarcity.
Toang
Economics is a social science which study human behavior as a relationship between earn and scarce mean which have alternative uses
Juliet
what is market structure
Fatima
market structure in economics depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on types of goods they sell and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements.
Nasir
what is economic theory
Madara
what is demand
Gooluck Reply
demand is the willingness to purchase something
Mohamed
demand is the potential ability or williness to purchases something at a particular price at a given period of time..
Ahmed
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time. Demand can also be defined as the desire backed by ability to purchase .
Fadiga
what is demand
John Reply
is the production of goods in scarcity
David
thanks
John
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time.
Fadiga
Demand refers to the quantity of goods and services that a consumer is willing and able to buy at a given price over a period of time
Augustina
Do high interest rate in a country increase investment
Alfred
what is demand of supply
music Reply
What is the meaning of supply of labour
Anthonia Reply
what is production?
Elizabeth Reply
Production is basically the creation of goods and services to satisfy human wants
Anthonia
importance of tertiary and example
Elizabeth
Production is the process of producing goods and services to satisfy human needs and want.
Augustina
under what condition will demand curve slope upward from left to right instead of normally sloping downward from left to right
Atama Reply
how i can calculate elasticity?
Tewekel Reply
What is real wages
Emmanuella 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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