The Carbon Cycle

  The plants in this ecosystem(western hemlock, western cedar, mountain hemlock, amabilis, yellow cedar, lichen, sedge, etc.) absorb energy from the sun through photosynthesis and create carbohydrates.  The carbohydrates created are kept within the plant and later used to build other carbon compounds and when primary consumers(snowshoe hare, woodland caribou, elk, black tailed deer, mountain goat, etc.) eat the plants they obtain some of the carbon from the carbon compounds in the plant.  This carbon is broken down and recombined to build animal tissue, at this point when these animals are eaten the carbon passes through the food chain and is reduced by each trophic level that it is consumed by.  When the animals and plants die with carbon in them they start to decompose due to detrivores(worms, maggots, etc.) and decomposers(fungi, bacteria, etc.) the carbon is then broken down and put into the soil where the plants absorb someof their energy from(including carbon).  As this is happening the animals are also going through cellular respiration which is a process of returning carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it is the opposite chemical reaction from photosynthesis this occurs when animals breath out.  Carbon is very impotant to the lives of animals, it gives them energy they require to live.
  The Carbon Cycle also takes place through water systems.  In Pacific Ranges there are many different types of water systems such as the oceans, marshs, fiords, lakes, rivers, etc.  All of the water systems however hold a plankton called phytoplankton which is more like a plant then an animal since it undergoes photosynthesis (brings carbon into cycle).  There is also zooplankton in these bodies of water which are animal types of plankton which eat the phytoplankton and also other types of water animals that eat phytoplankton exist as well, depending on what body of water we are talking about the next step is for the phytoplankton eating animals to be consumed by a secondary consumer, and then passed throughout the food chain within the body of water.  Carbon dioxide dissolves on the surface of water and creates carbonic acid which the water plants then use for their source of carbon as well from photosynthesis.  Rain flow due to the water cycle also carries in carbon with the soil from run offs into the water source.  When the water animals die the carbon goes into the sediment at the bottom of the body of water and return to the water plants.  A water cycle in pacific ranges that would have this occuring is in some of the rivers, the phytoplankton absorbs the sun and creates carbon compounds then is eaten by zooplankton and passed on to smaller fish, salmon then eat the smaller fish and then a bear eats the salmon, connecting the water carbon cycle to the land carbon cycle.  When the bear dies it's carbon goes back into the soil and is either washed into the river or taken in by plants such as the western hemlock tree in this area.  The carbon cycle in Pacific Ranges shows exactly how the water and land cycles interconnect.

The Oxygen Cycle

  The oxygen cycle is completely interconnected with the carbon cycle in the fact that photosynthesis and cellular respiration are major factors allowing the cycle to flow correctly just like in the carbon cycle.  Oxygen, like carbon dioxide, is in the atmosphere and when plants undergo photosynthesis they absorb the carbon dioxide, create sugar molecules to help give them energy to release oxygen back into the atmosphere, while other living creatures absorb oxygen when they breath in, break down the sugar molecules, and release carbon dioxide when they breath out, the complete opposite of plants.  This differenece keeps oxygen and carbon dioxide flowing through the atmosphere in equal measures.  The oxygen cycle is very simple and completely dependant on the more complex carbon cycle.  In Pacific Ranges oxygen is absorbed by all of the animals such as the snowshoe hair, black tailed deer, bear, etc. and they all also release carbon dioxide.  Plants in Pacific Ranges such as the mountain hemlock, yellow cedar, etc. all release oxygen into the atmosphere and absorb the carbon dioxide.  This simple exchange of gases is a very important process keeping all living creatures alive.

The Nitrogen Cycle

   The nitrogen cycle, like the carbon cycle, starts with the plants obtaining energy, it also flows through the food chain in similar ways to the carbon cycle.  Little bugs called rhizobia that live in the nodules on the roots of plants, in this case western hemlock trees, yellow cedar trees, mountain hemlock trees, etc. take nitrogen from the atmosphere which is 80% nitrogen in the first place and bond the nitrogen with other elements to make new compounds(nitrogen fixation).  In water there are different creatures that can perform nitrogen fixation as well called, cyanobacteria, they follow the same steps as rhizobia.  After the nitrogen undergoes this process it enters the soil and water where it is available to be used by plants.  From this point it is carried through the specific food chains.  In this ecoregion it could follow many paths through different food chains, one example would be for  lichen to absorb the nitrogen, get eaten by woodland caribou, and then the caribou get eaten by a bear, who eventually dies realeasing the nitrogen back into the soil after being broken up by decomposers and detrivores it is turned into ammonia but can still be absorbed by some plants.  The nitrogen cycle in Pacific Ranges can take many different paths through the many animals that live in this ecoregion but all return to the soil the same way, after all the animals decompose the left over nitrogen turns into ammonia, being absorbed by some plants or going through a process called nitrification.  This process happens when nitrifying bacteria in the ecoregion turns the ammonia back into nitrates, and from this point the nitrates can be converted back into nitrogen gas by denitrifying bacteria, this involves many chemical changes.  So the nitrogen came from the atmosphere in the start and at the end it is realeased back into the atmosphere, completing the cycle.  Humans can also have impact on how much nitrogen goes into the soil and in Pacific Ranges humans impact this cycle alot by adding fertilizers with nitrogen molecules in them to the soil to increase growth of trees that will later be harvested for lumber.  Added nitrogen can be a problem since too much is a very bad thing and can cause stunted plant growth, people need to be very careful when adding nitrogen into ecosystems.