A biogeochemical cycle (from the Greek bio, ‘life’, geo, ‘earth’ and chemistry12) is the movement of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, carbon, and other elements between living things and the environment (atmosphere, biomass, and aquatic systems) through a series of processes and decomposition of soil production.
In the biosphere, organic matter is limited, so its recycling is a key point in the maintenance of life on Earth; otherwise, nutrients would be depleted and life would disappear.
What are biogeochemical cycles?
This connection translates into a series of cyclic movements that allow energy to flow constantly in the ecosystems.
Similarly, plants are able to absorb carbon dioxide with the aim of releasing oxygen for life.
But plants, in turn, extract nutrients from the sediments formed after the death of other plants and animals that did the same thing before to survive. In this way, there is constantly an energy reserve available again and again for the production of breathable air for all living things.
When ocean water evaporates, it then condenses in the form of clouds and then precipitates as rain that again returns water to Earth, in a perfect cycle that benefits all living things on the planet.
Energy flows, but the matter is recycled
Energy flows directionally through the Earth’s ecosystems; it generally enters the form of sunlight and leaves in the form of heat. However, the chemical components that make living things are different: they are recycled.
What does this mean? For one thing, the atoms in your body are not brand new. On the contrary, they have been recycling through the biosphere for a long, long time, and have been part of many non-living organisms and compounds along the way.
You may or may not believe in reincarnation as a spiritual concept, but there is no doubt that the atoms in your body have been part of a lot of living and non-living things over the years!
What types are there? (With description)
These cycles are divided into two main types: gaseous biogeochemical cycles and sedimentary biogeochemical cycles based on reserves.
Gaseous biogeochemical cycles
The gaseous biogeochemical cycle exists in the atmosphere or in the oceans when evaporation occurs.
These, in turn, are subdivided into:
They operate a series of processes that allow water to circulate and transform on Earth, changing state according to the process involved. It can change from vapor to liquid and from liquid to solid.
These properties facilitate life on the planet. .
It is a vital element for life that goes through a series of processes and reactions that allow it to circulate in the Earth’s atmosphere .
It is absorbed and released by living beings, with the help of different complex chemical processes.
In its gaseous state, oxygen (O2) and carbon gas (CO2) it is used in its respiratory processes by both plants and animals.
And along with humans, we use and recycle it constantly in the act of breathing, to live fully.
This element, in its gaseous state, is also supplied to living beings through a cycle considered abiotic and biological, so that they absorb it from water, air, or soil. .
Learn more: the nitrogen cycle.
Likewise, carbon is present in the atmosphere, covers the oceans, and expands on land, fulfilling another vital cycle for living things. .
Learn more: the carbon cycle.
Sedimentary biogeochemical cycles
The second type of cycles is called reservoir-based sedimentary biogeochemical. .
It is explained because each natural reservoir has a nutrient cycle integrated by an abiotic part or portion and another group called exchange so that the interrelationship between the two occurs.
Biotic and abiotic elements in permanent exchange.
The earth’s crust is the great reservoir of these types of biogeochemical cycles.
This includes components of chemical origin present in the earth such as: iron, sulfur, and calcium, among others. And the gaseous cycles, which are circulating rapidly, form a great atmospheric reserve that does not run out.
This element must go through different processes of natural oxidation to combine with oxygen. .
Although it is not believed, that sulfur is introduced into food to reach primary consumers. In the atmosphere, it is present as sulfur dioxide and produces acid rain when sulfuric acid is formed and falls to earth.
It circulates mainly in soils and water, but in a slow, very sedimentary form. It allows the growth of ecosystems, mainly aquatic ecosystems.
Learn more: the phosphorus cycle.
How do biogeochemical cycles occur?
They occur when a chemical can move or circulate through all the biotic vicissitudes or labyrinths housed in the biosphere and the abiotic ones, spread between the lithosphere, the atmosphere, and the hydrosphere of the Earth.
As we will know, the living factors of the Earth viewed as a whole, as a whole, are the biotic ones.
All the nutrients they use, such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and sulfur, among others, are integrated with a closed system where they are never lost, they are always recirculating and replenishing themselves.
There are also so-called molecular cycles for water and silica. The rock cycle, on the other hand, operates with so-called macroscopic cycles.
Why are biogeochemical cycles fundamental to life?
Water, which contains hydrogen and oxygen, is essential for living things – that puts the water cycle very high on the list of cycles that interest us!
The hydrosphere, the set of places where water can be found as it cycles through the Earth, is large and diverse. Water occurs as a liquid at and below the Earth’s surface, as ice in the ice caps and glaciers, and as water vapor in the atmosphere. For more information on how water moves between these forms, check out the article on the water cycle.
Water makes up more than half of our bodies, but humans cannot live on water alone. Other essential elements keep our bodies functioning and are part of biogeochemical cycles:
- Carbon is found in all organic macromolecules and is also a fundamental component of fossil fuels. See the article on the carbon cycle for more information.
- Nitrogen is necessary for our proteins and is essential for human agriculture. See the article on the nitrogen cycle for more information.
- Phosphorus is a key component for DNA, A, R, N, and end text and is one of the main ingredients, along with nitrogen, in artificial fertilizers used in agriculture. See the article on the phosphorus cycle for more information.
- Sulfur is essential in the structure of proteins and is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.
These cycles do not occur in isolation, and the water cycle is a particularly important driver of the other biogeochemical cycles.
Although each element or compound has its pathway, all of these essential chemical nutrients circulate through the biosphere, moving between the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) worlds, and from one living thing to another.
What is their relationship to energy and matter?
Energy always flows in ecosystems openly, in a system where the sun constantly supplies the energy needed by the planet in the form of light, which is either used or lost in the form of heat, through all the links of the tropical levels of the food web.
All the time, the matter is circulating through the ecosystems, going from the environment to the living beings and vice versa.
In this way, living beings will be able to apprehend chemical elements according to their physiological needs, with different chemical transformations occurring in organisms.
All these elements are equally vital in oceans, atmosphere and earth’s crust. .
In other words, the matter that constitutes living things is always conserved and recycled thanks to interconnected biogeochemical cycles and powered by solar energy, through a process of carbon fixation operating in photosynthesis executed by plants.
When sunlight does not reach the deep sea, ecosystems use sulfur as an energy source.
Sulfur is an element that can always be recycled, and its energy can be released thanks to processes such as oxidation and reduction of its sulfur compounds.
- Biogeochemical Cycles: What They Are and How They Work [Types and Examples] - 2 June, 2022
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