What is a Biogeochemical Cycle?

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When you think about the circle of life, it is important to consider the molecular level. An element of carbon can move from a plant to an animal as it goes up the food chain. Eventually, the same element may end up in the soil and can begin the sequence again. This is one example of a biogeochemical cycle.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A biogeochemical cycle is a type of circular pathway through which matter moves or is recycled in an ecosystem. It includes geological, chemical and biological parts of the system.

What Are Biogeochemical Cycles

Biogeochemical cycles are pathways that let elements move through ecosystems. Because you cannot create or destroy matter, they help explain how all living and nonliving things cycle through nature. Earth acts as a closed system for the movement of matter, and a biogeochemical cycle includes the chemical, geological and biological pieces of this pathway.

Why Biogeochemical Cycles Are Important

Biogeochemical cycles help explain how the planet conserves matter and uses energy. The cycles move elements through ecosystems, so the transformation of things can happen. They are also important because they store elements and recycle them. Moreover, biogeochemical cycles can show you the connection among all living and nonliving things on Earth.

Understanding these cycles is crucial because people affect them. Human activity is disturbing some of these natural cycles and hurting different ecosystems. By paying attention to how these pathways work, humans may be able to stop the harmful impact.

Different Types of Biogeochemical Cycles

There are many different types of biogeochemical cycles, but the most common ones include water, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus. Although researchers continue to unravel new pathways and details about the cycles, examining the common ones can reveal how many ecosystems function.

For example, the water cycle shows how water moves through different states and ecosystems. Both plants and animals require water and drink it, but they can release it into the atmosphere through transpiration or perspiration. Decomposition and evaporation can also allow water to enter the air. Condensation in the clouds leads to precipitation as the water falls back down to the earth, and the cycle starts over with plants and animals using the water.

Although the water cycle is important by itself, it is also an example of the connection among all biogeochemical cycles. For instance, rainfall can influence the movement of carbon or nitrogen on the planet. All of these systems form vital relationships that help the Earth thrive.

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About the Author

Lana Bandoim is a freelance writer and editor. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from Butler University. Her work has appeared on Forbes, Yahoo! News, Business Insider, Lifescript, Healthline and many other publications. She has been a judge for the Scholastic Writing Awards from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She has also been nominated for a Best Shortform Science Writing award by the Best Shortform Science Writing Project.

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