Science ObjectDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores how the cycling of carbon and other nutrients from non-living to living components and back is one of the most important of ecosystem functions and is representative of the cycling of other elements.
All matter that comprises organic molecules, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and others are transferred cyclically among living organisms and their non-living environment. The cycling of elements from non-living to living components and back is one of the most important ecosystem characteristics. For example, carbon, an essential element in organic molecules, is conserved as it is transferred from inorganic carbon in an ecosystem to organic molecules in living organisms of the ecosystem and back as inorganic carbon to the environment. The carbon cycle, in the following description, serves as an example of one of the essential biogeochemical cycles.
- Trace the path of a carbon atom from the atmosphere through a biomass pyramid and ultimately back to the atmosphere
- Describe how photosynthesis and consumer respiration affect the flow of carbon through an ecosystem
- Predict the biological effects of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon due to the massive combustion of fossil fuels
- Identify the process that emits carbon to the atmosphere from producers, consumers and decomposers