A cycle is a series of change which comes back to the starting point and which can be repeated. The term “biogeochemical” tells us that biological, geological and chemical factors are all involved. The circulation of chemical nutrients like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and water etc. through the biological and physical world are known as biogeochemical cycles.
In effect, the element is recycled, although in some cycles there may be places (called reservoirs) where the element is accumulated or held for a long period of time (such as an ocean or lake for water). Water, for example, is always recycled through the water cycle, as shown in the diagram. The water undergoes evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, falling back to Earth clean and fresh. Elements, chemical compounds, and other forms of matter are passed from one organism to another and from one part of the biosphere to another through the biogeochemical cycles.
Chloroplasts conduct photosynthesis and are found in plant cells and other eukaryotic organisms. These are Chloroplasts visible in the cells of Plagiomnium affine — Many-fruited Thyme-moss. Ecological systems also known as ecosystems have many biogeochemical cycles operating as a part of the system, for example the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, etc. All chemical elements occurring in organisms are part of biogeochemical cycles. In addition to being a part of living organisms, these chemical elements also cycle through abiotic factors of ecosystems such as water (hydrosphere), land (lithosphere), and/or the air (atmosphere). The living factors of the planet can be referred to collectively as the biosphere.
All the nutrients—such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur—used in ecosystems by living organisms are a part of a closed system; therefore, these chemicals are recycled instead of being lost and replenished constantly such as in an open system. The flow of energy in an ecosystem is an open system; the sun constantly gives the planet energy in the form of light while it is eventually used and lost in the form of heat throughout the trophic levels of a food web. Carbon is used to make carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, the major sources of food energy. These compounds are oxidized to release carbon dioxide, which can be captured by plants to make organic compounds. The chemical reaction is powered by the light energy of the sun.
It is possible for an ecosystem to obtain energy without sunlight. Carbon must be combined with hydrogen and oxygen in order to be utilized as an energy source, and this process depends on sunlight. Ecosystems in the deep sea, where no sunlight can penetrate, use sulfur. Hydrogen sulfide near hydrothermal vents can be utilized by organisms such as the giant tube worm. In the sulfur cycle, sulfur can be forever recycled as a source of energy.
Energy can be released through the oxidation and reduction of sulfur compounds (e.g., oxidizing elemental sulfur to sulfite and then to sulfate). Although the Earth constantly receives energy from the sun, its chemical composition is essentially fixed, as additional matter is only occasionally added by meteorites. Because this chemical composition is not replenished like energy, all processes that depend on these chemicals must be recycled.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 26 November 2016
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