Intro to biogeochemical cycles
- Energy flows through an ecosystem and is dissipated as heat, but chemical elements are recycled.
- The ways in which an element—or compound such as water—moves between its various living and nonliving forms and locations in the biosphere is called a biogeochemical cycle.
- Biogeochemical cycles important to living organisms include the water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur cycles.
Energy flows, but matter is recycled.
Which biogeochemical cycles are key to life?
- Carbon is found in all organic macromolecules and is also a key component of fossil fuels. See the carbon cycle article for more info.
- Nitrogen is needed for our , , and proteins and is critical to human agriculture. See the nitrogen cycle article for more info.
- Phosphorus is a key component of and and is one of the main ingredients—along with nitrogen—in artificial fertilizers used in agriculture. See phosphorous cycle article for more info.
- Sulfur is key to protein structure and is released to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels.