Biomes, Ecological Cycles, and Environmental Milestones

What is a biogeochemical cycle?

The elements that organisms need most (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur) cycle through the physical environment, the organism, and then back to the environment. Each element has a distinctive cycle that depends on the physical and chemical properties of the element. Examples of biogeochemical cycles include the carbon and nitrogen cycles, both of which have a prominent gaseous phase. Examples of biogeochemical cycles with a prominent geologic phase include phosphorus and sulfur, where a large portion of the element may be stored in ocean sediments. Examples of cycles with a prominent atmospheric phase include carbon and nitrogen. These biogeochemical cycles involve biological, geologic, and chemical interactions.


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