The Cycling of Materials

Exchanging Carbon, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus With the World


You may not reuse all of the materials you come into contact with, but the environment does a good job at recycling itself. In this poster, you will learn about how the environment reuses Carbon, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus.

Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is the process in which carbon is exchanged through the atmosphere, land, water, and organisms. Producers create carbohydrates by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and consumers eat the producers, obtaining carbon from the carbohydrates. During cellular respiration, some of the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, starting the process over again.
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Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is a necessary part of protein building, and it makes up 78% of the gases in the atmosphere. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria takes nitrogen in the atmosphere and fixes it into chemical compounds. These bacteria live within plants, and uses these plants' sugars to produce nitrogen. Excess nitrogen is released into the soil, which is taken in by many plants and animals.
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Phosphorus Cycle

Phosphorus is an element that is needed to make up the cells of all living organisms. Phosphorus enters the soil and water through eroding rocks, decomposing organisms, and animal waste. Plants absorb phosphates from the soil through their roots, and animals get phosphorus from eating these plants or eating other organisms.
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