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St Cloud State University Biogeochemical Cycles I and II Questions

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LESSON Biogeochemical Cycles Guiding Question: How do nutrients cycle through the environment? • Explain how the law of conservation of matter applies to the behavior of nutrients in the environment. • Describe the carbon cycle. • Describe the events of the phosphorus cycle. • Explain the importance of bacteria to the nitrogen cycle. 4 Reading Strategy Before you read, preview Figure 21. Make a list of questions you have about the carbon cycle. As you read, try to answer those questions. Vocabulary law of conservation of matter, nutrient, biogeochemical cycle, primary producer, photosynthesis, consumer, decomposer, cellular respiration, eutrophication, nitrogen fixation Consider this: A carbon atom in your fingernail today might have helped make up the muscle of a cow a year ago, may have belonged to a blade of grass a month before that, and may have been part of a dinosaur’s tooth 100 million years ago. Matter is never used up, and it never goes away. It just keeps cycling around and around. Nutrient Cycling Nutrients cycle through the environment endlessly. Why does matter, such as water, cycle through the environment, never getting used up? Here’s the answer: Matter may be transformed from one type to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. This principle is called the law of conservation of matter. It explains why the amount of matter in the environment stays the same as it flows through matter cycles, such as the water cycle. Nutrients are matter that organisms require for their life processes. Organisms need several dozen nutrients. The nutrients required in relatively large amounts are called macronutrients and include nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus. The nutrients needed in small amounts are called micronutrients. Nutrients circulate endlessly throughout the environment in complex cycles called biogeochemical cycles, or nutrient cycles. Carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen are nutrients that cycle through all of Earth’s spheres and organisms. The water cycle plays parts in all the biogeochemical cycles. The Carbon Cycle Producers play vital roles in the cycling of carbon through the environment. From fossil fuels to DNA, from plastics to medicines, carbon (C) atoms are everywhere. The carbon cycle describes the routes that carbon atoms take through the environment. 3.4 LESSON PLAN PREVIEW Real World Students explore their roles in the carbon cycle. Differentiated Instruction Advanced learners research biological molecules containing phosphorus. Inquiry Students design a controlled experiment to test the effect that adding nutrients has on plant growth. 3.4 RESOURCES Paper and Pencil Activity, Effects of CO2 on Plants • Lesson 3.4 Worksheets • Lesson 3.4 Assessment • Chapter 3 Overview Presentation GUIDING QUESTION FOCUS Ask students if they are familiar with the words nutrition and nutrient. Lead students to an understanding that nutrients are matter that organisms need to survive. Then, have students identify where people get nutrients. (People get nutrients from food.) Point out that the nutrients in food are part of natural cycles that move matter through the nonliving and living parts of the environment (including students’ bodies). Earth’s Environmental Systems 83 Atmosphere Cellular respiration Photosynthesis Cellular respiration Atmosphere Consumers Oceanatmosphere exchange Producers Burning of Fossil fuels Decomposers Volcanoes and other geological processes Cellular respiration Cellular respiration Photosynthesis Rivers Runoff Weathering Oceans Human sources Land plants Consumers Decomposition Fossil fuel mining Oceans Soil and soil organisms Fossil fuels Sedimentary rock Adapted from Schlesinger, W.H. 1997. Biogeochemistry: An analysis of global change, 2nd ed. London: Academic Press FIGURE 21 Carbon Cycle The carbon cycle describes the routes that carbon atoms take as they move through the environment. 
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