Nutrient cycles (AQA)










At the heart of both the phosphorus and nitrogen cycles are microorganisms such as bacteria. These key nutrients pass from plants to animals through ingestion and digestion (eating!) in a very straightforward way, but what happens after those organisms die is a far more interesting tale.


The recycling of these nutrients amongst many others enables their transfer between living and non-living elements on the planet: water, land, air and populations in different places and of different trophic levels.




Phosphorus is an essential element present in DNA, ATP, etc. and originates from the Earth’s rocks which slowly erode into water bodies.

Thereon, it is absorbed through the water plants use in their photosynthesis, and becomes part of their biomass which can be spread via ingestion to organisms higher up the food web.

Phosphorus makes its way back into the soil and later into water bodies through the action of decomposers which break down the plant and animal matter. Since phosphorus is present in fertilisers used to…….


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