How does the carbon cycle affect the nitrogen cycle?

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Kole Share
May 1, 2016


All living things need nitrogen to develop and grow, and all living things have carbon.


Even though the earth's atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen, plants and animals cannot use it in this form because the nitrogen atoms are too firmly bound together in molecules. So plants must draw their nitrogen from nitrogen compounds dissolved in the soil, and animals get their nitrogen by eating plants or by eating other animals that eat plants.

Plants get carbon by taking carbon dioxide from the air. They use the carbon dioxide and the energy from sunlight to make food. Animals get their carbon by eating those plants or by eating animals that have eaten those plants. When organisms breathe, they take oxygen from the air. During respiration, the oxygen reacts with food to provide energy. Respiration produces carbon dioxide which is released to the air. (Nitrogen is the nutrient needed by plants, which in turn give off carbon dioxide, part of the carbon cycle.)

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