The Cycles of Matter - Socorro Independent School District

The Cycles of Matter - Socorro Independent School District

The Cycles of Matter Why and how is matter recycled in our ecosystem? Cycles of Matter All things in nature are made of matter. Nature recycles matter because matter cannot be created or destroyed.

Matter can only be transformed from one form to another. Matter remains in nature, cycling from one form to another. The Carbon Cycle Carbon is an essential component of all

biomolecules, such as protein and fats. Carbon is also found in carbon dioxide and fossil fuels. The Carbon Cycle Carbon

dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere through respiration, the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Plants take in carbon dioxide to help make glucose in photosynthesis. Oxygen is released as an end product. Consumers

eat other organisms to obtain carbon, as well as other nutrients. The Carbon Cycle As consumers break down food to obtain energy and nutrition, some of the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is an end product of cellular respiration. Even plants perform cellular respiration, so plants do release some carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The Carbon Cycle

Sometimes, carbon gets trapped in carbon sinks. These are large reservoirs of carbon. Carbonates and limestone are good examples.

The Carbon Cycle Also, dead organisms can be deposited underground, and the carbon in their bodies can form fossil fuels. What are some

examples? The Carbon Cycle Humans and the Carbon Cycle Recall that the burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide in

the atmosphere. Many modern technologies rely on these fuels for power. Humans and the Carbon Cycle While carbon dioxide remains a

trace gas, the amount of CO2 has steadily increased in the past century. Humans and the Carbon Cycle Recall that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. While we need CO2 to keep Earth warm,

too much CO2 in the atmosphere has the potential to raise temperatures too high. The increase in absorbed solar energy can possibly cause shifts in global climate patterns year-to-year weather and precipitation cycles otherwise known as climate change. Humans and the Carbon Cycle Furthermore,

the ocean itself serves as a carbon sink. This means that an increase in atmospheric CO2 will raise the level of CO2 in the ocean. As the oceans CO2 levels rise, the pH of ocean water drops, which has the potential to destroy marine ecosystems. The Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen

is a key component of our proteins. Nitrogen makes up 78% of our atmosphere, but we cant use gaseous nitrogen as a nutrient. The Nitrogen Cycle

Instead, nitrogen gas (N2) has to be converted to ammonia first. Special bacteria called nitrogen fixers perform this key role.

The Nitrogen Cycle Once nitrogen gas has been fixed, the ammonia can be converted to nitrates and nitrites, which are absorbed by plants for nutrition. Once again, consumers have to eat other organisms to obtain nitrogen. The Nitrogen Cycle

Decomposers are vital to the health of ecosystems, because they break down dead organisms into organic matter. Decomposers return nitrogen to the soil, where other plants can absorb it. Finally, other bacteria can convert some of the soil nitrogen back into nitrogen gas.

The Nitrogen Cycle The Phosphorus Cycle Phosphorus is a key molecule in nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Phosphorus is readily found in

rocks and earth. The Phosphorus Cycle Phosphate is released from rock due to weathering, the breakdown of rock. Erosion then transports phosphate into the soil or into water sources. In either case, phosphate can be absorbed by plants and other producers.

Once again, consumers have to eat other organisms for phosphate. The Phosphorus Cycle Sometimes phosphate can collect at the bottom of large bodies of water, and form new rock. Finally, decomposition returns phosphate to the soil, as it does other

nutrients. The Phosphorus Cycle Humans and the Nitrogen/Phosphorus Cycles Human farming activities often use fertilizers to stimulate future plant growth. Fertilizers contain additional

nitrogen and phosphorus. However, excessive use of fertilizer can lead to undesired plant growth in other ecosystems via runoff. Humans and the Nitrogen/Phosphorus Cycles Algal blooms are rapid and massive growths of algae. Algal blooms are

particularly dangerous to local ecosystems, since they can drain vital nutrients from the ecosystem. Algal blooms often occur when excess nitrogen and phosphorus is dumped into water sources. Humans and the Nitrogen/Phosphorus Cycles Also,

adding too much nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to oversaturation of the soil. This means that other nutrients are lost, which damages the long-term stability of that ecosystem. Lastly, plants that adapted to low levels of nitrogen can be put at risk of extinction, as they are not adapted to survive in high-nitrogen ecosystems.

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