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Section 3–3 3–3 Cycles of Matter

Key Concepts
E nergy is crucial to an ecosystem. But all organisms need more
than energy to survive. They also need water, minerals, and
other life-sustaining compounds. In most organisms, more than
3.3.1 Describe how matter cycles
• How does matter move 95 percent of the body is made up of just four elements: oxygen,
among the living and nonliv-
among the living and nonliv- carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Although these four elements
ing parts of an ecosystem. ing parts of an ecosystem?
are common on Earth, organisms cannot use them unless the
3.3.2 Explain why nutrients are • How are nutrients important in
living systems? elements are in a chemical form that cells can take up.
important in living systems.
3.3.3 Describe how the availability Vocabulary
of nutrients affects the pro- biogeochemical cycle Recycling in the Biosphere
ductivity of ecosystems. evaporation
transpiration Energy and matter move through the biosphere very differently.
nutrient Unlike the one-way flow of energy, matter is recycled
nitrogen fixation within and between ecosystems. Elements, chemical com-
denitrification pounds, and other forms of matter are passed from one organ-
primary productivity ism to another and from one part of the biosphere to another
Vocabulary Preview limiting nutrient
through biogeochemical cycles. As the long word suggests,
Figure 3–11, page 75, introduces algal bloom
biogeochemical cycles connect biological, geological, and chemi-
seven terms. Two of the terms, evap- Reading Strategy: cal aspects of the biosphere.
oration and transpiration, are Using Visuals Before you Matter can cycle through the biosphere because biological
explicitly defined in the text. The read, preview the cycles shown systems do not use up matter, they transform it. The matter is
meanings of the remaining five in Figures 3–11, 3–13, 3–14,
and 3–15. Notice how each assembled into living tissue or passed out of the body as waste
terms—condensation, precipitation, diagram is similar to or different products. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a carbon atom in a
runoff, seepage, and uptake—can be from the others. As you read, molecule of carbon dioxide floating in the air of a wetland like
inferred from their context. As stu- take notes on how each chemical the one in Figure 3–10. The leaf of a blueberry bush absorbs you
dents read about the water cycle on moves through the biosphere. during photosynthesis. You become part of a carbohydrate
page 75, have them look for sen- molecule and are used to make fruit. The fruit is eaten by a
tences that relate to the terms and caribou, and within a few hours, you are passed out of the ani-
copy them on a sheet of paper. mal’s body. You are soon swallowed by a dung beetle, then com-
Finally, using the sentences they 왔 Figure 3–10 Matter moves bined into the body tissue of a hungry shrew, which is then eaten
copied as a basis, students can through an ecosystem in biogeo- by an owl. Finally, you are released into the atmosphere once
chemical cycles. In this Alaskan again when the owl exhales. Then, the cycle starts again.
extrapolate a “formal” definition for wetland, matter is recycled through Simply put, biogeochemical cycles pass the same molecules
each term. Have students share their the air, the shrubs, the pond, and the
caribou—as it is used, transformed, around again and again within the biosphere. Just think—with
definitions in a class discussion.
moved, and reused. every breath you take, you inhale hundreds of thousands of
oxygen atoms that might have been inhaled by dinosaurs
Reading Strategy millions of years ago!
Have students make their own simpli-
fied cycle diagrams of the water
cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle,
and phosphorus cycle.

Recycling in the
Build Science Skills
Inferring After students have read
Recycling in the Biosphere, point out SECTION RESOURCES
the sentence that begins You are soon
swallowed by a dung beetle. . . . Ask: Print: • Biotechnology Manual, Issue 4
How can a molecule that’s swal- • Lesson Plans, Section 3–3
• Laboratory Manual A, Chapter 3 Lab
lowed by a dung beetle “combine
• Laboratory Manual B, Chapter 3 Lab
into”—or become part of—the Save3–3, Technology:
• Teaching Resources, Section Review
body tissue of a tree shrew and e • BioDetectives Videotapes, Pfiesteria: A Killer

Enrichment, Chapter 3 Exploration

then an owl? (The tree shrew takes in in the Water
• Reading and Study Workbook A, Section 3–3
the molecule when it eats the dung • iText, Section 3–3
• Adapted Reading and Study Workbook B,
beetle, then an owl takes in the mol- • Transparencies Plus, Section 3–3
Section 3–3
ecule when it eats the tree shrew.)

74 Chapter 3
Condensation For: Water Cycle activity
Web Code: cbe-2033
Students can examine how
water moves through the
Evaporation Transpiration water cycle.


The Water Cycle
r Use Visuals
Seepage ndw Figure 3–11 After students have
Gr studied the diagram and read the
caption, have them recall what they
Ocean learned about water in Chapter 2.
Root Remind them that water is the single
most abundant compound in most
living things. Then, ask: What are
two ways that water can enter the
atmosphere? (Evaporation and tran-
spiration) What process moves
water through the cycle from the
왖 Figure 3–11 This diagram air to the ground? (Precipitation)
shows the main processes involved
The Water Cycle in the water cycle. Scientists esti-
What are two routes by which
water might make its way to the
All living things require water to survive. Where does all this mate that it can take a single water
molecule as long as 4000 years to ocean? (Through runoff and through
water come from? It moves between the ocean, atmosphere, and
complete one cycle. Interpreting seepage into ground water and eventu-
land. As Figure 3–11 shows, water molecules enter the atmos- Graphics What happens to the al flow into the ocean)
phere as water vapor, a gas, when they evaporate from the ocean water that evaporates from oceans
or other bodies of water. The process by which water changes and lakes?
from liquid form to an atmospheric gas is called evaporation Build Science Skills
(ee-vap-uh-RAY-shun). Water can also enter the atmosphere Comparing and Contrasting
by evaporating from the leaves of plants in the process of Emphasize that transpiration by
transpiration (tran-spuh-RAY-shun). plants releases water vapor, a gas,
During the day, the sun heats the atmosphere. As the warm, into the air, not liquid water. Ask:
moist air rises, it cools. Eventually, the water vapor condenses For: Water Cycle activity
What process in humans and other
into tiny droplets that form clouds. When the droplets become Visit:
Web Code: cbp-2033 mammals also releases water vapor
large enough, the water returns to Earth’s surface in the form of
precipitation—rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
into the air? (Respiration) How are
On land, much of the precipitation runs along the surface of transpiration in plants and respira-
the ground until it enters a river or stream that carries the runoff tion in mammals different? (Sample
back to an ocean or lake. Rain also seeps into the soil, some of it answer: Mammals have specialized
deeply enough to become ground water. Water in the soil enters organs that are involved in respira-
plants through the roots, and the water cycle begins anew. tion—the lungs, diaphragm, bronchial
tubes, and so forth—but plants do not
How are evaporation and transpiration related? have “breathing” organs.)

Less Proficient Readers Advanced Learners

Some students might be unfamiliar with the Encourage students who need an extra chal-
terms used in Figure 3–11. Call on students at lenge to investigate further one of the
random to read aloud each sentence or set of biogeochemical cycles discussed in this section.
Answers to . . .
sentences in the text that describes one of the You might assign one student to do further
processes in the water cycle. For example, the research on each of the four cycles discussed. Evaporation is part of the
first two sentences in the second paragraph on Students can find more information on these process of transpiration.
page 75 describe condensation. After the text cycles in higher-level biology texts as well as in
Figure 3–11 The water vapor rises
explanation for each process is read aloud, have earth science texts. Have students prepare a
into the atmosphere and then cools
students find that step in the cycle in Figure 3–11 presentation to the class, complete with visual
and condenses to form clouds.
and describe it in their own words. aids.
The Biosphere 75
3–3 (continued) Nutrient Cycles
The food you eat provides energy and chemicals that
Nutrient Cycles keep you alive. All the chemical substances that an
organism needs to sustain life are its nutrients. Think
Make Connections
of them as the body’s chemical “building blocks.”
Health Science For each pair of Primary producers, such as plants, usually obtain
students, provide an empty vitamin nutrients in simple inorganic forms from their environ-
container with its nutrition label ment. Consumers, such as the monkey in Figure 3–12,
intact. Try to provide a mix of vita- obtain nutrients by eating other organisms. Every
mins for adults, for young children, living organism needs nutrients to build tissues
and for infants. You may want to ask and carry out essential life functions. Like water,
students in advance to bring in con- nutrients are passed between organisms and the
tainers from home. Ask: What types environment through biogeochemical cycles.
of information are given on the The carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, and phosphorus
nutrition label? (The serving size, the cycle are especially important. Note also that oxygen
total number of servings in the contain- participates in all these cycles by combining with these
elements and cycling with them during various parts of
er, the specific nutrients in the pills or
their journey.
drops, the amount of each nutrient in
one serving, and the percentage of What is a nutrient?
daily value each amount represents.)
What do you think a “daily value”
왖 Figure 3–12 Like all living The Carbon Cycle Carbon plays many roles. Carbon is a key
is? (How much of a nutrient a person organisms, the owl monkey needs ingredient of living tissue. In the form of calcium carbonate
should take in each day) What does nutrients to grow and carry out (CaCO3), carbon is an important component of animal skeletons
“percentage of daily value” mean? essential life functions. This
and is found in several kinds of rocks. Carbon and oxygen form
monkey, which is found in Central
(How much of the daily value is in one carbon dioxide gas (CO2), an important component of the atmos-
and South America, obtains most of
serving of the vitamin) Ask students if its nutrients by eating plants. phere. Carbon dioxide is taken in by plants during photosynthe-
they recognize the names of any of sis and is given off by both plants and animals during respiration.
the nutrients listed on the label and Four main types of processes move carbon through its cycle:
whether they know the nutrients’
common dietary sources and their • Biological processes, such as photosynthesis, respiration, and
functions in maintaining good decomposition, take up and release carbon and oxygen.
health. Depending on the extent of
• Geochemical processes, such as erosion and volcanic activity,
students’ knowledge, you may want
release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and oceans.
to suggest that they research this
information and share their findings • Mixed biogeochemical processes, such as the burial and
in posters or brief oral presentations. decomposition of dead organisms and their conversion under
pressure into coal and petroleum (fossil fuels), store carbon

• Human activities, such as mining, cutting and burning forests,

and burning fossil fuels, release carbon dioxide into the
N S TA atmosphere.
Download a worksheet Scientists identified these processes decades ago, but they are still
on cycles of matter for students to N S TA
actively investigating them. For example, how much carbon moves
complete, and find additional teacher For: Links on cycles through each part of the cycle? How do other parts of the carbon
support from NSTA SciLinks. of matter
cycle respond to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide? How much
Web Code: cbn-2033 carbon dioxide can the ocean absorb? Later in this unit, you will
learn why answers to these questions are so important.


The rain in Spain, and elsewhere land. However, this same proportion does not
Huge quantities of water cycle between Earth’s hold true for water that evaporates from Earth’s
surface and atmosphere. Hydrologists estimate surface: 84 percent of the water in the atmos-
that about 390,000 cubic kilometers of water phere comes from oceans and only 16 percent
evaporate from Earth’s surface and enter the from land. The reason for the difference in pro-
atmosphere each year. portions is simple: about a third of the
Considering all forms of precipitation, about 77 precipitation that falls on land runs off into
percent falls on oceans and about 23 percent on streams and rivers and is carried to oceans.

76 Chapter 3
Use Visuals
Figure 3–13 shows how these processes move carbon through Figure 3–13 Call on different stu-
the biosphere. In the atmosphere, carbon is present as carbon dents in turn to “translate” the
dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by diagram’s pictures, labels, and arrows
volcanic activity, by respiration, by human activities such as the
into complete, descriptive sentences.
burning of fossil fuels and vegetation, and by the decomposition
For example, the circled picture of
of organic matter. Plants take in carbon dioxide and use the
trees, the arrows, and the
carbon to build carbohydrates during photosynthesis. The
carbohydrates are passed along food webs to animals and other
왔 Figure 3–13 Carbon is found Photosynthesis label on the left side of
in several large reservoirs in the the diagram can be expressed as,
consumers. In the ocean, carbon is also found, along with cal- biosphere. In the atmosphere, it is
cium and oxygen, in calcium carbonate, which is formed by found as carbon dioxide gas; in the
“During photosynthesis, plants take
many marine organisms. Calcium carbonate can also be formed oceans as dissolved carbon dioxide; in carbon dioxide from the atmos-
chemically in certain marine environments. This chalky, carbon- on land in organisms, rocks, and phere and release oxygen.” The
based compound accumulates in marine sediments and in the soil; and underground as coal, circled picture of the elk with two
petroleum, and calcium carbonate
bones and shells of organisms. Eventually these compounds rock. Interpreting Graphics
arrows can be translated as, “During
break down and the carbon returns to the atmosphere. What are the main sources of carbon respiration, animals take in oxygen
dioxide in the ocean? given off by plants and release car-
bon dioxide into the atmosphere,”
and, “When animals die and decom-
pose, carbon is released into the
CO2 in Atmosphere soil.” Continue until all the processes
in both pathways have been
described this way.

Photosynthesis activity



Decomposition Human
activity CO2 in Ocean Uplift



fuels Deposition


The carbon pool The remaining 1 percent is held in the atmos-

Scientists estimate the biosphere’s total carbon phere, circulated, and used in photosynthesis. Answers to . . .
pool to be approximately 49,000 metric gigatons. The carbon that is contained in organic
(1 metric gigaton equals 109 metric tons.) Of that molecules—such as the wood in trees—may Any chemical substance
total, 71 percent is contained in Earth’s oceans, not be recycled back to the abiotic environment that an organism needs to sustain life
mainly in the form of carbonate and bicarbonate for several hundred years or even longer. Figure 3–13 Respiration by ocean
ions. Fossil carbon comprises 22 percent of the Carbon compounds found in coal that formed animals, precipitation containing dis-
total pool. An additional 3 percent is contained in from ancient trees, for example, are the prod- solved carbon dioxide, erosion of
dead organic matter and phytoplankton, and ucts of photosynthesis that occurred millions of carbonate rocks formed from the skele-
another 3 percent is held in terrestrial ecosystems. years ago. tons of ocean organisms such as corals

The Biosphere 77
The Nitrogen Cycle All organisms require nitrogen to make
3–3 (continued) amino acids, which in turn are used to build proteins. Many
different forms of nitrogen occur naturally in the biosphere.
Make Connections Nitrogen gas (N2) makes up 78 percent of Earth’s atmosphere.
Chemistry Write the chemical for- Nitrogen-containing substances such as ammonia (NH3), nitrate
mulas for atmospheric nitrogen (N2), ions (NO3- ), and nitrite ions (NO2- ) are found in the wastes pro-
ammonia (NH3), the nitrate ion duced by many organisms and in dead and decaying organic
(NO3), and the nitrite ion (NO2) matter. Nitrogen also exists in several forms in the ocean and other
on the board. Ask students: Which large water bodies. Human activity adds nitrogen to the biosphere
element is symbolized by each let- in the form of nitrate—a major component of plant fertilizers.
ter in these formulas? (N is the Figure 3–14 shows how the different forms of nitrogen cycle
symbol for nitrogen; H for hydrogen; through the biosphere. Although nitrogen gas is the most abun-
and O for oxygen.) What do the dant form of nitrogen on Earth, only certain types of bacteria
can use this form directly. Such bacteria, which live in the soil
small numbers mean? (The small
and on the roots of plants called legumes, convert nitrogen gas
numbers tell how many atoms of the
into ammonia in a process known as nitrogen fixation. Other
element are in one molecule or ion of
bacteria in the soil convert ammonia into nitrates and nitrites.
the substance.) What atoms make Once these products are available, producers can use them to
up one molecule of atmospheric make proteins. Consumers then eat the producers and reuse the
nitrogen? (Two atoms of nitrogen) 왔 Figure 3–14 The atmosphere nitrogen to make their own proteins.
One molecule of ammonia? (One is the main reservoir of nitrogen in When organisms die, decomposers return nitrogen to the
atom of nitrogen and three atoms of the biosphere. Nitrogen also cycles soil as ammonia. The ammonia may be taken up again by
hydrogen) The nitrate ion? (One through the soil and through the
producers. Other soil bacteria convert nitrates into nitrogen gas
tissues of living organisms.
atom of nitrogen and three atoms of Interpreting Graphics What are in a process called denitrification. This process releases
oxygen) The nitrite ion? (One atom the main nitrogen-containing nitrogen into the atmosphere once again.
of nitrogen and two atoms of oxygen) nutrients in the biosphere?

N2 in Atmosphere
Build Science Skills
Using Models To reinforce students’
Synthetic fertilizer
understanding of the nitrogen cycle,
have them make models of the four Atmospheric
nitrogen fixation
chemical formulas of the different
forms of nitrogen. Provide a variety
of materials, and let each student Denitrification
choose the type of model to make.
For example, two-dimensional mod- Reuse Uptake
els could be made with circles cut Uptake by consumers by producers
from colored construction paper and Reuse
by producers
by consumers
glued to a larger sheet. Three-dimen-
sional models could be made with
clay balls of different colors held
together with toothpicks. Students Deposition,
can use their models as they study Bacterial excretion

the nitrogen cycle in Figure 3–14. nitrogen fixation NO3

and NO2
Use Visuals
Figure 3–14 The “translation” pro-
cedure described for use with Figure
3–13 would also work well with this
diagram. For example, the part of the
diagram that illustrates nitrogen fixa- FACTS AND FIGURES
tion by bacteria could be described
in the following way: “In nitrogen fix-
The scarcity of nitrogen Nitrifying bacteria use nitrogenase, an
ation, bacteria in the soil and on
Although about 80 percent of the air surrounding enzyme, to break the covalent bonds in N2 mol-
plant roots change atmospheric
Earth is nitrogen gas (N2), usable forms of the ele- ecules. Nitrogenase functions only when it is
nitrogen into ammonia.”
ment are scarce in ecosystems. The reason for this isolated from oxygen. On land, nitrogen-fixing
is that the two atoms in atmospheric nitrogen are bacteria accomplish this by living inside oxygen-
held together by triple covalent bonds that only excluding nodules or layers of insulating slime
lightning, volcanic action, and certain bacteria on plant roots. In aquatic ecosystems,
can break. In addition, the ammonia, nitrite, and cyanobacteria—the primary nitrogen-fixers—
nitrate formed by nitrifying bacteria are very sus- have specialized cells called heterocysts that
ceptible to leaching and runoff, which carry away exclude oxygen.
nitrogen dissolved in the water.
78 Chapter 3
Corn Production
Help students understand the experi-
Previous Crop Average Yield of Corn (kg/ha)
ment procedure by asking: Why was
Monantha vetch 2876 the fifth field left bare? (It was the
Hairy vetch 2870 control in the experiment. If the corn in
Farming in the Rye the fifth field grew as well as or better
Sometimes, farmers grow crops of rye and other Austrian peas 3159
than the corn in any of the other fields,
grasses and then plow them under the soil to decay. Rye 1922 the researchers would know that the
This practice helps to increase crop yields of other
plants. Farmers may also plow under legumes such as None 1959 previous year’s plantings in those
peas, vetch, and lentils. Legumes are plants that have other fields did not increase corn pro-
colonies of nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in nodules on 1. Using Tables and Graphs Use the data in the ductivity.)
the plant roots. table to create a bar graph. Answers
In an effort to determine which practice produces
2. Comparing and Contrasting Compare the 1. Students could plot plant names
the best crop yields, scientists performed an experi-
effect of growing legumes to that of growing grass on the vertical axis and yields on the
ment in Georgia. They grew corn on land that had
on the yield of corn. How do the yields differ from horizontal axis; use different incre-
previously received one of five treatments. Three fields
the yield on the field that had received no prior ments for the yield axis; and/or
had previously been planted with three different
legumes. A fourth field had been planted with rye. arrange the crops in sequence from
The fifth field was left bare before the corn was 3. Using Tables and Graphs Which treatment highest to lowest yield or from lowest
planted. None of the fields received fertilizer while the produced the best yield of corn? The worst yield?
to highest.
corn was growing. The table shows how much corn 4. Applying Concepts Based on your knowledge
was produced per hectare of land (kg/ha) in each field. of the nitrogen cycle, how can you explain these 2. Growing legumes the previous
One hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters. results? year significantly increased the crop
yields. Growing rye did not increase
yields. In fact, the bare field’s yield
was slightly higher than the field
planted with rye.
The Phosphorus Cycle Phosphorus is essential to living 3. The legumes—particularly the
organisms because it forms part of important life-sustaining Austrian peas—produced the highest
molecules such as DNA and RNA. Although phosphorus is of yields. Rye produced the lowest yield.
great biological importance, it is not very common in the bio- 4. The corn plants benefited greatly
sphere. Unlike carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, phosphorus does
when the soil was enriched with
not enter the atmosphere. Instead, phosphorus remains mostly
nitrogen fixed by legumes the previ-
on land in rock and soil minerals, and in ocean sediments.
ous year.
There, phosphorus exists in the form of inorganic phosphate. As
the rocks and sediments gradually wear down, phosphate is
released. On land, some of the phosphate washes into rivers and
streams, where it dissolves. The phosphate eventually makes its Build Science Skills
way to the oceans, where it is used by marine organisms.
Organisms Comparing and Contrasting
As Figure 3–15 shows, some phosphate stays on land and
Point out the terms inorganic and
cycles between organisms and the soil. When plants absorb
organic in the description of the
phosphate from the soil or from water, the plants bind the
phosphorus cycle. Encourage stu-
phosphate into organic compounds. Organic phosphate moves
through the food web, from producers to consumers, and to the dents to consult science dictionaries
rest of the ecosystem. and chemistry textbooks to deter-
mine the difference between organic
Where is most of the phosphorus stored in the biosphere? Land and inorganic compounds and report
their findings to the rest of the class.
왘 Figure 3–15 Phosphorus in the biosphere cycles
among the land, ocean sediments, and living organ- P
isms. Interpreting Graphics How is phosphorus
important to living organisms?


What makes a compound organic? A carbon atom has four electrons in its outer
Organic compounds are often defined simply as shell—but the shell is capable of holding eight Answers to . . .
compounds that contain carbon. However, not all electrons. For this reason, a carbon atom can In rock and soil minerals
carbon-containing compounds are considered form covalent bonds with as many as four atoms and in ocean sediments
organic. Carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons such of other elements. Carbon atoms are usually
as methane and propane are prime examples of joined together in a ring or chain that forms a sta- Figure 3–14 Ammonia, nitrate, and
carbon compounds that are not organic. A more ble “backbone” for building molecules. Such nitrite
precise definition of an organic compound is: a structures are not present in simple inorganic Figure 3–15 Phosphorus forms part
compound that contains carbon and is construct- compounds such as carbon dioxide. of life-sustaining molecules such as
ed in living cells. RNA and DNA.

The Biosphere 79
3–3 (continued) Nutrient Limitation
Ecologists are often interested in the primary
Nutrient Limitation productivity of an ecosystem, which is the rate at
which organic matter is created by producers. One
Build Science Skills factor that controls the primary productivity of an
Making Judgments Call attention ecosystem is the amount of available nutrients. If a
to the paragraph about farmers’ use nutrient is in short supply, it will limit an organism’s
of fertilizers. Ask: How might the use growth. When an ecosystem is limited by a single
of fertilizers harm ecosystems nutrient that is scarce or cycles very slowly, this
nearby? (Runoff from the fields could substance is called a limiting nutrient.
carry fertilizers to bodies of water and Because they are well aware of this phenomenon,
cause algal blooms there.) Have stu- farmers apply fertilizers to their crops to boost their
dents discuss the pros and cons of productivity. Fertilizers usually contain three impor-
tant nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
fertilizer use. Then, let two teams
These nutrients help plants grow larger and more
debate the issue.
quickly than they would in unfertilized soil.
The open oceans of the world can be considered
3 ASSESS nutrient-poor environments compared to the land. Sea
water contains at most only 0.00005 percent nitrogen,
Evaluate Understanding or 1/10,000 of the amount typically found in soil. In the
ocean and other saltwater environments, nitrogen is
Make one photocopy of Figure 3–11 often the limiting nutrient. In some areas of the
(the water cycle), Figure 3–13 (the ocean, however, silica or even iron can be the limiting
carbon cycle), and Figure 3–14 (the 왖 Figure 3–16 When an aquatic nutrient. In streams, lakes, and freshwater environments,
nitrogen cycle). Cover the diagrams’ ecosystem receives a large input of a
phosphorus is typically the limiting nutrient.
limiting nutrient, the result is often an
labels with white tape, and then use increase in the number of producers. When an aquatic ecosystem receives a large input of a limit-
these “masters” to make a set of Here, an extensive algal bloom covers ing nutrient—for example, runoff from heavily fertilized fields—
copies for students to add labels. the shoreline of Tule Lake in California. the result is often an immediate increase in the amount of algae
Using Analogies How is this situa- and other producers. This result is called an algal bloom. Why
tion similar to the one that occurs in a do algal blooms occur? There are more nutrients available, so the
Reteach fish tank in which the fish have been
overfed? producers can grow and reproduce more quickly. If there are not
Have each student write a brief enough consumers to eat the excess algae, conditions can become
description of each cycle discussed in so favorable for growth that algae cover the surface of the water.
the section referring to Figures 3–11, Algal blooms, like the one shown in Figure 3–16, can sometimes
3–13, 3–14, and 3–15. Let students disrupt the equilibrium of an ecosystem.
share their work in a class discussion
and correct any errors or omissions in
one another’s descriptions.
3–3 Section Assessment
Making a Flowchart
Use a flowchart to trace the
1. Key Concept How does 5. Critical Thinking Predicting
Students’ flowcharts may vary. flow of energy in the carbon
the way that matter flows Based on your knowledge of the
Each flowchart, though, should cycle. Hint: You may wish to
through an ecosystem differ from carbon cycle, what do you think
mention and describe the process- refer to Figure 3–13,
the way that energy flows? might happen if vast areas of
especially to the labels
es included in Figure 3–13. A 2. Key Concept Why do forests are cleared?
Photosynthesis, Feeding,
good flowchart might incorporate living organisms need nutrients? 6. Critical Thinking Applying Respiration, and Decom-
the flow of energy, and carbon, 3. Describe the path of nitrogen Concepts Summarize the role position. Also, you may want
through a food chain. through its biogeochemical cycle. of algal blooms in disrupting the to refer to Figure 3–7 in
equilibrium in an aquatic Section 3–2 for a description of
4. Explain how a nutrient can be a
ecosystem. energy flow in an ecosystem.
limiting factor in an ecosystem.

If your class subscribes to the

iText, use it to review the Key 3–3 Section Assessment
Concepts in Section 3–3.
1. Unlike the one-way flow of energy, matter is 5. If vast areas of forest were cleared, less car-
recycled within and between ecosystems. bon dioxide would be removed from the
2. To build tissues and carry out life functions. atmosphere by plants.
Answer to . . . 3. Students should summarize the steps in the 6. When an aquatic ecosystem receives a large
nitrogen cycle as shown in Figure 3–14. A input of a limiting nutrient, the result is
Figure 3–16 Bacteria in a lake con- good response should describe the different often an algal bloom. Algal blooms can
sume dead algae and deplete oxygen in forms of nitrogen as well as explain bacterial sometimes disrupt the equilibrium of an
the lake just as excess food in a fish nitrogen fixation and denitrification. ecosystem by producing more algae than
tank is consumed by bacteria that consumers can eat.
4. If a nutrient is in short supply, it will limit an
deplete oxygen in the water.
organism’s growth.
80 Chapter 3