Biology » Ecosystems » Biogeochemical Cycles

Summarizing Biogeochemical Cycles


Mineral nutrients are cycled through ecosystems and their environment. Of particular importance are water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. All of these cycles have major impacts on ecosystem structure and function. As human activities have caused major disturbances to these cycles, their study and modeling is especially important. A variety of human activities, such as pollution, oil spills, and events) have damaged ecosystems, potentially causing global climate change. The health of Earth depends on understanding these cycles and how to protect the environment from irreversible damage.


acid rain

corrosive rain caused by rainwater falling to the ground through sulfur dioxide gas, turning it into weak sulfuric acid; can damage structures and ecosystems

biogeochemical cycle

cycling of mineral nutrients through ecosystems and through the non-living world

dead zone

area within an ecosystem in lakes and near the mouths of rivers where large areas of ecosystems are depleted of their normal flora and fauna; these zones can be caused by eutrophication, oil spills, dumping of toxic chemicals, and other human activities


process whereby nutrient runoff causes the excess growth of microorganisms, depleting dissolved oxygen levels and killing ecosystem fauna


direct deposit of solid minerals on land or in the ocean from the atmosphere


area of the Earth where water movement and storage occurs

non-renewable resource

resource, such as fossil fuel, that is either regenerated very slowly or not at all

residence time

measure of the average time an individual water molecule stays in a particular reservoir


movement of one tectonic plate beneath another

Continue With the Mobile App | Available on Google Play

[Attributions and Licenses]

This is a lesson from the tutorial, Ecosystems and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts