What are biogeochemical cycles?
Biogeochemical cycles are called the connection and movements that exist between living and non-living elements in order for energy to flow through ecosystems.
The word biogeochemical is made up of terms derived from the Greek: bio which means “life”, and geo , which indicates “earth”. Therefore, biogeochemical is a term that indicates the cyclical movements of biological elements vital to life. Geological because they occur in the earth and the atmosphere, and chemical because they are natural elements.
The most important biogeochemical cycles are the hydrological cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle, the sulfur cycle and the phosphorus cycle.
There are limited resources in nature, so these must be recycled to prevent them from being depleted and life on Earth disappearing.
For this reason, it is necessary for these cycles to occur so that when a living organism dies, the elements or chemical substances that are generated during its decomposition can be used and deposited in the earth so that later other organisms can take advantage of them.
Consequently, biogeochemical cycles are very important for the development and continuation of life on the planet.
However, the activity of the human being can intervene, for different reasons, in these cycles, and accelerate or delay the use of these resources.
It should be noted that biogeochemical cycles are carried out thanks to the energy that flows openly in the ecosystem, and that is obtained directly or indirectly from the sun.
Type of biogeochemical cycles
As previously mentioned, the most important biogeochemical cycles are six. Below is its description.
Hydrological or water cycle
The set of processes by which water circulates and transforms on Earth is called the hydrological cycle or water cycle.
Water changes state depending on the process it is in, going from vapor to liquid, and from liquid to solid. It is one of the few elements that has this capacity and that is vital for life to develop and maintain on the planet.
Cycle of nitrogen
The nitrogen cycle is a biological and abiotic process by which this chemical element can be supplied to living beings (since nitrogen cannot be used in its pure state), so that they can absorb it from water, air or land .
It is a cycle that takes place in a short time and is gaseous.
Carbon is an element that is present in the atmosphere, the oceans and on land, and its cycle is vital so that this element can circulate through the earth, the oceans and the atmosphere in order to be used by beings alive.
This cycle is one of the most important for preserving the balance of the biosphere, since it includes physical, chemical and biological processes.
This biogeochemical cycle is considered one of the most complex because sulfur, during this process, must go through different oxidation states when combined with oxygen.
In this cycle, sulfur is incorporated into vegetables to reach primary consumers. On the other hand, it can reach the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide and water once sulfuric acid has formed, which produces acid rain.
The oxygen cycle represents the process and reactions that this element goes through in order to circulate in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a complex cycle because it is an element that is used and released by living beings through different chemical processes.
Oxygen (O 2 ) in the gaseous state and as carbon gas (CO 2 ) is used in the respiration of animals and plants. For its part, animals and human beings continually use and recycle oxygen to be able to breathe and, therefore, live.
It is a very important cycle due to the low amount of phosphorus that exists, compared to other elements. This is a sedimentary cycle and, therefore, slower, because this element circulates mainly in the soil and waters.
Phosphorus is a fundamental element for the growth of ecosystems, especially in the aquatic one.