The Environment and its cycles

Everything in the natural world is connected. An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together. Ecosystems have no particular size. Abiotic factors are essentially non-living components that affect the living organisms of the ecological community. An ecosystem includes not only the species inhabiting an area, but also all the features of the physical environment. Energy cannot be produced without the consumption of matter; the pyramid of life therefore has a broad base of vegetation, the smaller herbivores that feed on plants, and a much smaller number of carnivores. Ecosystem ecologists are interested in the exchange of energy, gases, water and minerals amongst the biotic (living) and the abiotic (nonliving)

components of a particular ecosystem. Some of the factors of biotic and abiotic life are: Distribution is where organisms occur. There are many different ecosystems: rain forests and tundra, coral reefs and ponds, grasslands and deserts. Climate differences from place to place largely determine the types of ecosystems we see. How terrestrial ecosystems appear to us is influenced mainly by the dominant vegetation. Abundance is how many organisms occurr. It is usually measure in a mean number and found per sample. Abundance can be infulenced by many factors such as the testing method and the health of the environment. Environmental Cycles provide and maintain the balance in the environment. It has taken thousands of years to perfectly adapt a cycle for a specific environment. These cycles are already balanced and the slightest change can leave the enviornment unstable and possibly endanger ever biotic creature in it. That is why we must maintain this balance. A cycle in the environment is the transferring or carrying of an atom following another and eventually cycling through the waste and always restoring balance. Water on Earth is always changing. Its repeating changes make a cycle. As water goes through its cycle, it can be a solid (ice), a liquid (water), or a gas (water vapor). Ice can change to become water or water vapor. Water

can change to become ice or water vapor. Water vapor can change to become ice or water.

Carbon Cycle Carbon (C), the fourth most abundant element in the Universe, after hydrogen (H), helium (He), and oxygen (O), is the building block of life. It’s the element that anchors all organic substances, from fossil fuels to DNA. On Earth, carbon cycles through the land, ocean, atmosphere, and the Earth’s interior in a major biogeochemical cycle (the circulation of chemical components through the biosphere from or to the lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere). The global carbon cycle can be divided into two categories: the geological, which operates over large time scales (millions of years), and the biological/physical, which operates at shorter time scales (days to thousands of years).

Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen is a component of many organic molecules. It forms an essential part of amino acids (which make up proteins) and DNA. Nitrogen is essential for all living cells. Nitrogen is the major component of earth's atmosphere. It enters the food chain by means of nitrogenfixing bacteria and algae in the soil. This nitrogen which has been 'fixed' is now available for plants to

absorb. These types of bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with legumes-these types of plants are very useful because the nitrogen fixation enriches the soil and acts as a 'natural' fertilizer. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria form nitrates out of the atmospheric nitrogen which can be taken up and dissolved in soil water by the roots of plants. Then, the nitrates are incorporated by the plants to form proteins, which can then be spread through the food chain. When organisms excrete wastes, nitrogen is released into the environment. Also, whenever an organism dies, decomposers break down the corpse into nitrogen in the form of ammonia. This nitrogen can then be used again by nitrifying bacteria to fix nitrogen for the plants.