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The effects and importance of the carbon and nitrogen cycle

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Introduction

Effects and importance of the carbon and nitrogen cycle Carbon is the basis of all life. It is the backbone of organic matter whereby other elements can bond to it to form complex specialised polymers used in the functioning of organisms. The two most important features of carbon is that it has a valence of four allowing it to bond to other life essential elements and that the energy input required to make and break bonds is at a level where molecules and complex organic polymers can form. The composition of dietary nutrients like Lipids, proteins and carbohydrates all contain the element of carbon. And so through does the enzymes required to act upon and digest them. It is because of carbon's ability to bond to other elements like oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen that this can happen. As each individual carbon atom has the ability to hold eight electrons in its outer shell it can form four other bonds with four other elements. Carbon can also form bonds with itself and as well as single bonds it can also make double bonds with other elements. This allows carbon to form a variety of compounds all differing in sizes and shapes such as cellulose, keratin, chitin and other vital polysaccharides as well as being a fundamental element in all forms of organic matter. ...read more.

Middle

This process produces ammonia which can be used directly as fertilisers, this can then be acted upon by nitrifying bacteria. This balance can be disrupted though. Vegetation is the term given to depressions of plant communities and through land clearing and deforestation this can give rise to a disturbance in the nitrogen cycle which in turn can cause further disturbances to biomes. Deforestation is the process whereby land is cleared of trees to allow for urbanisation and supplies of timber. Subsequently habitats are destroyed which can disrupt the vegetation present in biomes and in turn the organisms present in them. Further more this can give rise to intense competition between organisms, promoting extinction or at the very least the endangering of species. A deficiency of producers would also result, causing a shortage of mammal compatible nitrates. With organised agriculture, urbanisation and intense industrialisation, vegetations and habitats are simply removed. This affects the nitrogen cycle as the number of organisms that can utilise nitrogen which act to provide a viable source of nitrates for other organisms is reduced. In addition to this, gases which are harmful to the atmosphere are also produced as by products from reactions which take place to provide power and electricity for domestic and industrial processes. Fossil fuels are used to provide this power and on an industrial level the combustion of either hydrocarbons or organic compounds is at an astronomical level in comparison to the already diminishing finite supply and even more so the gases which are produced. ...read more.

Conclusion

The effect of which, would be on humans and animals alike whereby there'd be an increase in the availability of oxygen. Nitrogenous oxides which are often unwanted products of industrial reactions would effect the biodiversity in both a biome and ecosystem by producing excess nitrates. Although this may seem indirect and unrelated at first, the presence of nitrogen based oxides in the atmosphere could lead to the formation of a nitrate through nitrogen fixation which was earlier discussed. The effect this could have on organisms is that of eutrophication. The presence of too many nitrogen compounds can cause eutrophication. Fertilisers used in modern day farming are essential to ensuring crops develop to meet industry requirements and for maximising food yields. Eutrophication starts when fertilisers are either washed into rivers or streams by rain. This then causes a growth of algae where by neighbouring plants are in competition for light. If the population of algae exceeds that of other primary producers this can cause death of the competing organisms. Eventually both plants and algae die and due to the increased biomass more microbes/decomposers are introduced. These decomposers then need to be able to respire (aerobically) and consequently consume all oxygen present or at the very least an amount which deprives other organisms of the ability to be able to respire themselves, causing death to all other organisms present in that ecosystem i.e. fish. This of course is an example of eutrophication in a water based ecosystem. ...read more.

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