Matter moves through an ecosystem in biogeochemical cycles. Unlike energy, which is continuously lost from the ecosystem, nutrients are cycled through the ecosystem, oscillating between the biotic and abiotic components in what are called biogeochemical cycles.
Systems ecology is an interdisciplinary field of ecology, taking a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, especially ecosystems.]citation needed[ Systems ecology can be seen as an application of general systems theory to ecology. Central to the systems ecology approach is the idea that an ecosystem is a complex system exhibiting emergent properties. Systems ecology focuses on interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems, and is especially concerned with the way the functioning of ecosystems can be influenced by human interventions. It uses and extends concepts from thermodynamics and develops other macroscopic descriptions of complex systems.
Systems ecology seeks a holistic view of the interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems. Systems ecologists realise that the function of any ecosystem can be influenced by human economics in fundamental ways. They have therefore taken an additional transdisciplinary step by including economics in the consideration of ecological-economic systems. In the words of R.L. Kitching:
In geography and Earth science, a biogeochemical cycle or substance turnover or cycling of substances is a pathway by which a chemical element or molecule moves through both biotic (biosphere) and abiotic (lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere) compartments of Earth. A cycle is a series of change which comes back to the starting point and which can be repeated.
The term “biogeochemical” tells us that biological, geological and chemical factors are all involved. The circulation of chemical nutrients like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and water etc. through the biological and physical world are known as biogeochemical cycles. In effect, the element is recycled, although in some cycles there may be places (called reservoirs) where the element is accumulated or held for a long period of time (such as an ocean or lake for water).
Biotic components are the living things that shape an ecosystem. A biotic factor is any living component that affects another organism, including animals that consume the organism in question, and the living food that the organism consumes. Each biotic factor needs energy to do work and food for proper growth. Biotic factors include human influence.
Biotic components are contrasted to abiotic components, which are non-living components of an organism's environment, such as temperature, light, moisture, air currents, etc. Biotic components usually include:
Ecosystem ecology is the integrated study of biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems and their interactions within an ecosystem framework. This science examines how ecosystems work and relates this to their components such as chemicals, bedrock, soil, plants, and animals.
Ecosystem ecology examines physical and biological structures and examines how these ecosystem characteristics interact with each other. Ultimately, this helps us understand how to maintain high quality water and economically viable commodity production. A major focus of ecosystem ecology is on functional processes, ecological mechanisms that maintain the structure and services produced by ecosystems. These include primary productivity (production of biomass), decomposition, and trophic interactions.
A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic and inorganic matter back into the production of living matter. The process is regulated by food web pathways that decompose matter into mineral nutrients. Nutrient cycles occur within ecosystems. Ecosystems are interconnected systems where matter and energy flows and is exchanged as organisms feed, digest, and migrate about. Minerals and nutrients accumulate in varied densities and uneven configurations across the planet. Ecosystems recycle locally, converting mineral nutrients into the production of biomass, and on a larger scale they participate in a global system of inputs and outputs where matter is exchanged and transported through a larger system of biogeochemical cycles.
Particulate matter is recycled by biodiversity inhabiting the detritus in soils, water columns, and along particle surfaces (including 'aeolian dust'). Ecologists may refer to ecological recycling, organic recycling, biocycling, cycling, biogeochemical recycling, natural recycling, or just recycling in reference to the work of nature. Whereas the global biogeochemical cycles describe the natural movement and exchange of every kind of particulate matter through the living and non-living components of the Earth, nutrient cycling refers to the biodiversity within community food web systems that loop organic nutrients or water supplies back into production. The difference is a matter of scale and compartmentalization with nutrient cycles feeding into global biogeochemical cycles. Solar energy flows through ecosystems along unidirectional and noncyclic pathways, whereas the movement of mineral nutrients is cyclic. Mineral cycles include carbon cycle, sulfur cycle, nitrogen cycle, water cycle, phosphorus cycle, oxygen cycle, among others that continually recycle along with other mineral nutrients into productive ecological nutrition. Global biogeochemical cycles are the sum product of localized ecological recycling regulated by the action of food webs moving particulate matter from one living generation onto the next. Earths ecosystems have recycled mineral nutrients sustainably for billions of years.