Chemical elements essential to life are available in limited amounts and must be cycled between living organisms and the environment. Because these processes involve both chemical and biological processes, they are called biogeochemical cycles. Elements such as carbon (from carbon dioxide), hydrogen, and nitrogen move between the atmosphere and organisms, while elements such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and iron enter into organisms from the soil. The four primary biogeochemical cycles are water, nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus.
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