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The Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems

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Jennifer Myers

on 10 November 2014

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Transcript of The Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems

The Water Cycle
The water cycle is the continuous
movement
of water between Earth's surface and its atmosphere. In this cycle, water
changes
from one form to another. The
sun
is the source of energy that drives the water cycle.
Heat
from the sun causes evaporation of water from Earth's surface.
Evaporation
is the process by which a liquid changes to a gas. When heated, surface water evaporates forming water
vapor
. The water vapor then becomes part of the
atmosphere
.
Cycling of Matter
The Earth constantly receives
energy
from the sun. In contrast, the amount of
matter
on Earth does not change. Matter is
recycled
from organisms to the environment and back again. Earth's ecosystems
recycle
carbon,
nitrogen
, and water. These materials are all important to all
organisms
.
The Carbon Cycle
Carbon is found in every
living
organism. Carbon is also found in the
atmosphere
, in gasoline and many kinds of
rocks
. One common form of carbon is carbon
dioxide (CO2)
. Recall that CO2 is released into the air as a waste product of
respiration
.
Producers
such as plants use CO2 from the air to
sugar
. The carbon stored in organisms cannot be reused until the organisms are eaten or
decomposed
. Bacteria and other decomposers
break
down dead organisms in a process called decomposition. CO2 is released into the
atmosphere
in this process. Carbon moves among the air, the ground, plants and animals in the
carbon
cycle.
The Nitrogen Cycle
Nitrogen
is found in many places on Earth and in many different forms. Most of Earth's nitrogen is in the
atmosphere
in the form of nitrogen gas. All living things use nitrogen to make materials such as
proteins
, but most organisms cannot use nitrogen
gas
.
Objective 8.L.3.3
Another way water moves into the atmosphere involves
plants
. During the process of transpiration, water vapor is
released
through tiny openings in plant leaves. The water vapor then joins the water found in the
atmosphere
. Animals also add water vapor to the atmosphere when they
breathe
out or when perspiration evaporates. Water also evaporates from
urine
released by animals onto the ground.
I will illustrate the flow of energy within food webs including the cycling of matter (carbon, nitrogen and water).
Go back to your notes and review the image of a food web. Next, go back in the notes and view the carbon cycle image, nitrogen cycle image and water cycle image. Brainstorm how you could combine these four images into just one picture covers all this information. Use the sheet of paper provided by the teacher to sketch out your illustration then color and label your drawing. Go back and check to see if all 3 cycles are present in your drawing, as well as, the food web.
Review the cycles
Go to studyjams.scholastic.com
Click on Science, then ecosystems
Watch the video clips titled "Nitrogen Cycle", "Carbon Cycle" and the "Water Cycle". When finished view, the next activity slide.
The Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems
Combustion or Burning
Combustion or
burning
is part of the carbon cycle. When wood or other
organic
material burns it releases CO2. By burning
coal
and oil, people put large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Recall that coal and oil are
fossil
fuels.The
fossil fuels
developed from the remains of plants and animals that died
millions
of years ago.
Carbon
from those organisms is stored in the fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are
burned
, they release most of the carbon as CO2. Cars, buses, coal-burning power plants and oil furnaces all affect
Earth's
carbon cycle. CO2 from burning fossil fuels is also thought to cause
climate
change.
Nitrogen Fixation
A natural process converts nitrogen from the atmosphere into forms that are useful to a variety of organisms. This process is called nitrogen
fixation
. It produces compounds such as
ammonia
and nitrates. Some bacteria perform nitrogen
fixation
.
Lightning
can also cause this process to occur. Bacteria make nitrogen available to the
roots
of plants. Animals get nitrogen by
eating
plants.
Substances containing nitrogen can be found in animal
wastes
including urine. In this way,
animals
return nitrogen to the soil for plants to use. When a plant or animal dies, the remains
decay
and become part of the soil. The nitrogen in the remains is recycled and can also be
used
by plants. Human
activities
also add nitrogen to the soil. Many fertilizers contain
nitrates
when fertilizer is spread on the soil. The nitrogen content of the soil is
increased
. There are several
factors
that increase the amount of nitrogen in soil.
Denitrification
Other processes take nitrogen
out
of the soil. Denitrification takes nitrogen from nitrates and other compounds in the soil and releases it as nitrogen
gas
. The nitrogen gas
returns
to the atmosphere.
Denitrifying
bacteria live deep in the soil and ocean floor where there is no free oxygen. They use nitrate compounds to get
oxygen
for cellular respiration. They produce nitrogen gas as
waste
. The bacteria
complete
the nitrogen cycles.
Once in the atmosphere, water vapor rises and
cools
then condensation occurs.
Condensation
is the process by which a
gas
changes to a
liquid
. Water vapor that evaporates into the atmosphere condenses to form droplets of
water
. The droplets
condense
around tiny particles in the atmosphere, such as dust or smoke, an
clouds
form.
When the droplets get
heavy
, they fall as precipitation. Precipitation is water that falls to Earth's surface in the form of rain, snow, sleet or hail. As
precipitation
falls, several things can happen. The water can
remain
on Earth's surface in a solid or liquid form. Water can also sink into soil or cracks in rocks where it collects and flows underground as
groundwater
.
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