Difference Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle

Main Difference – Carbon Cycle vs Phosphorus cycle

Carbon cycle and phosphorus cycle are two recycling processes of materials in ecosystems. Since carbon and phosphorus can be considered as nutrients, both carbon and phosphorus cycles can be considered as nutritive cycles. The carbon cycle is involved in the recycling of carbon in ecosystems while phosphorus cycle is involved in the recycling of phosphorus. The main difference between carbon and phosphorus cycle is that carbon cycle interacts with the atmosphere whereas phosphorus cycle does not interact with the atmosphere. Therefore, the carbon cycle is a type of gaseous cycling whereas the phosphorus cycling is a type of sedimentary cycling. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Carbon Cycle
      – Definition, Features, Process
2. What is Phosphorus Cycle
      – Definition, Features, Process
3. What are the Similarities Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Carbon Cycle, Carbon Dioxide, Ecosystems, Food Chains, Nutritive Cycles, Phosphates, Phosphorus Cycle

Difference Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle - Comparison Summary

What is Carbon Cycle

The series of processes that are involved in the interconversion of carbon compounds in the ecosystems are collectively referred to as the carbon cycle. The major reservoirs of carbon are found in oceans and as fossil fuels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae to produce carbohydrates. This process is called photosynthesis. These carbohydrates pass through food chains; herbivorous animals eat plants for food, and carnivorous animals eat herbivorous animals for food. Both plants and animals release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as a waste material of cellular respiration. Once these plants and animals are dead, decomposers works on the dead matter and some amount of carbon in dead organisms are released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. Ultimately, the rest of the carbon is released to the environment by the combustion of fossil fuels. The carbon cycle is shown in figure 1.

Main Difference -  Carbon vs  Phosphorus Cycle

Figure 1: Carbon cycle

Pollution and deforestation are human activities which disturb the carbon cycle. Moreover, the increased consumption of fossil fuels may cause global warming.  

What is Phosphorus Cycle

The series of processes that are involved in the recycling of phosphorus in the ecosystems are referred to as the phosphorus cycle. Phosphorus can be considered as an important component of living organisms since it is involved in the formation of biological membranes, genetic materials, bones, teeth, and shells. The natural phosphates in rocks are the major reservoirs of phosphorus. These phosphates are dissolved in water and are taken up by plants.

Difference Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle

Figure 2: Phosphorus Cycle

Phosphorus moves through the food chain by forming structures in living organisms. Only a little amount of phosphorus is released to the atmosphere by microbes in the detritus food chains. The atmospheric phosphorus causes acid rains. 

Similarities Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle

  • Carbon cycle and phosphorus cycle are two processes involved in recycling the materials of the ecosystems.
  • Both carbon and phosphorus cycles can be considered as nutritive cycles.
  • Both cycles interact with animals and other nature-related living things in the ecosystem.
  • Both carbon and phosphorus cycle interact with soil and water in the ecosystem.

Difference Between Carbon and Phosphorus Cycle

Definition

Carbon Cycle: The series of processes by which compounds of carbon are interconverted in the ecosystems are referred to as the carbon cycle.

Phosphorus Cycle: The series of processes by which compounds of phosphorus are interconverted in the ecosystems are referred to as the phosphorus cycle.

Interaction with  Atmosphere

Carbon Cycle: Carbon cycle interacts with the atmosphere.

Phosphorus Cycle: Phosphorus cycle does not interact with the atmosphere.

Speed 

Carbon Cycle: Carbon cycle is a rapid process.

Phosphorus Cycle: Phosphorous cycle is a slow process.

Respiration

Carbon Cycle: Carbon cycle releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by respiration.

Phosphorus Cycle: In phosphorus cycle, there is no release of gaseous components to the atmosphere.

Cycling Pool

Carbon Cycle: The cycling pool of the carbon cycle is present in the atmosphere and hydrosphere.

Phosphorus Cycle: The cycling pool of the phosphorus cycle is present in the lithosphere.

Type of Cycling

Carbon Cycle: The carbon cycle is a type of gaseous cycling.

Phosphorus Cycle: The phosphorus cycle is a type of sedimentary cycling.

Major Reservoirs

Carbon Cycle: The major reservoirs of carbon are the atmosphere, fossil fuels, and oceans.

Phosphorus Cycle: The major reservoirs of phosphorus are ferric phosphate and calcium phosphate in rocks.

Conclusion

Carbon and phosphorus cycles are two series of processes involved in the recycling of nutrients in the ecosystems. Both carbon and phosphorus are important elements in living organisms. The carbon cycle is involved in the recycling of carbon compounds in the ecosystems. The phosphorus cycle is involved in the recycling of phosphorus in the ecosystems. The carbon cycle consists of a significant gaseous phase whereas the phosphorus cycle lacks a significant gaseous phase. Therefore, the main difference between carbon and phosphorus cycle is the amount of gaseous compounds produced by each cycle.

Reference:

1.“What is The Carbon Cycle?” Tribal Energy and Environmental Information, Available here. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.
2.“Phosphorus Cycle.” The Environmental Literacy Council, Available here. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Carbon cycle-simple diagram” By FischX – own work based on Image:Carbon cycle-simple diagram.gif, Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Figure 46 03 07″ By CNX OpenStax (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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