Nutrient Cycling

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•  The supply of inorganic nutrients is maintained by nutrient cycling

Nutrients refer to the material required by an organism, and include elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus

  • The supply of inorganic nutrients on Earth is finite – new elements cannot simply be created and so are in limited supply

Hence chemical elements are constantly recycled after they are used:

  • Autotrophs obtain inorganic nutrients from the air, water and soil and convert them into organic compounds
  • Heterotrophs ingest these organic compounds and use them for growth and respiration, releasing inorganic byproducts
  • When organisms die, saprotrophs decompose the remains and free inorganic materials into the soil
  • The return of inorganic nutrients to the soil ensures the continual supply of raw materials for the autotrophs 

Nutrient Cycling

nutrient cycling