Outline salient features of carbon cycling in an ecosystem.
The carbon cycle is a gaseous nutrient cycle.
The major part of carbon is found dissolved in oceans. This oceanic reservoir regulates the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels also represent a reservoir of carbon.
Carbon cycling occurs through atmosphere, ocean and through living and dead organisms.
Carbon is fixed in the biosphere through photosynthesis by autotrophs and is released back into the atmosphere as CO2 through:
(i) Respiratory activities of the producers and consumers.
(ii) Breakdown activities of decomposers.
(iii) Forest fire and combustion of organic matter.
(iv) Volcanic activity
(v) Rapid deforestation
(vi) Burning of wood and fossil fuel.
Human activities have influenced the carbon cycle by significantly increasing the rate of release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.