What is Nutrients and Nutrient Cycle? Class 12 Biology
In this article, we will discuss the topic ‘What is Nutrients and Nutrient Cycle? Class 12 Biology’ from the ‘Unit- 10’ out for Biology Class 12.
Nutrients and Nutrient Cycle: A substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and for growth is called a nutrient.
Nutrients are required by all living beings on the Earth. The essential nutrients are mentioned in the figure shown above. These nutrients are composed of different elements, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The Earth has a limited quantity of these chemical elements from when it was formed. The chemicals on Earth function in a closed system, they are neither significantly increase nor decrease in quantity, and they are recycled throughout the Earth’s biological and geological cycles. These cycles include both the living biosphere, and the non-living lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere.
The main biogeochemical cycles describe the movement of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These elements cycle through the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere (the latter three are also called geospheres). The chemical elements ( in the form of nutrients) are taken up by living beings and are used for growth and reproduction before either passing on to another organism or returning to one of the geospheres. Carbon and Nitrogen are present in the atmosphere (not phosphorus) as gases such as CO2, N2; in the hydrosphere as dissolved nutrients and gases such as PO4–, NO3–and CO2; or in the form of minerals such as carbonates, sulfates or phosphates in sedimentary and volcanic rocks.
The Plants (producers) are the only living components of the ecosystem that are capable of converting the solar energy into chemical energy of food by the process of Photosynthesis. In this process, the producers utilize these basic elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus) from their non-living components. This material (food prepared during photosynthesis) is finally transformed into biomass of the producers. This biomass is then transferred to the consumers (herbivores feed on the plants and plant products; while carnivores feed on these herbivores) and ultimately returned to the environment with the help of decomposers(after the death and decay of living organisms). This cyclic exchange of material between the living organisms and their non-living environment is called Biogeochemical Cycle or Nutrient Cycle.
A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic and inorganic matter back into the production of matter. Nutrient cycling is an essential process in an ecosystem. The nutrient cycle explains how the nutrients are used up in the environment, their movement (conversion) from one form to another and the processes involved in their conversion or transformation. Nutrient cycles involve both the living components as well as the non-living components of the ecosystem.
Energy flow is a unidirectional and noncyclic pathway, whereas the movement of mineral nutrients is cyclic. Mineral cycles include the carbon cycle, sulfur cycle, nitrogen cycle, water cycle, phosphorus cycle, oxygen cycle, that continually recycle along with other mineral nutrients into productive ecological nutrition.
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