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The Cycles of Matter Why and how is matter recycled in our ecosystem?

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Presentation on theme: "The Cycles of Matter Why and how is matter recycled in our ecosystem?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Cycles of Matter Why and how is matter recycled in our ecosystem?

2 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.

3 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.

4 The Carbon Cycle  Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) 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.

5 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.

6 The Carbon Cycle  Sometimes, carbon gets trapped in carbon sinks. These are large reservoirs of carbon.  Carbonates and limestone are good examples.

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

8 The Carbon Cycle

9 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.

10 Humans and the Carbon Cycle  While carbon dioxide remains a trace gas, the amount of CO 2 has steadily increased in the past century.

11 Humans and the Carbon Cycle  Recall that CO 2 is a greenhouse gas. While we need CO 2 to keep Earth warm, too much CO 2 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.

12 Humans and the Carbon Cycle  Furthermore, the ocean itself serves as a carbon sink. This means that an increase in atmospheric CO 2 will raise the level of CO 2 in the ocean.  As the ocean’s CO 2 levels rise, the pH of ocean water drops, which has the potential to destroy marine ecosystems.

13 The Nitrogen Cycle  Nitrogen is a key component of our proteins.  Nitrogen makes up 78% of our atmosphere, but we can’t use gaseous nitrogen as a nutrient.

14 The Nitrogen Cycle  Instead, nitrogen gas (N 2 ) has to be converted to ammonia first.  Special bacteria called nitrogen fixers perform this key role.

15 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.

16 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.

17 The Nitrogen Cycle

18 The Phosphorus Cycle  Phosphorus is a key molecule in nucleic acids (DNA and RNA).  Phosphorus is readily found in rocks and earth.

19 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.

20 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.

21 The Phosphorus Cycle

22 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.

23 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.

24 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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