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carbon cycle n.
The combined processes, including photosynthesis, decomposition, and respiration, by which carbon as a component of various compounds cycles between its major reservoirs—the atmosphere, oceans, and living organisms. Also called carbon dioxide cycle.
carbon cycle |
In ecology, the movement of atoms of carbon through the biosphere. Molecules of carbon dioxide are taken in by plants, to be incorporated into their tissues, which may then be eaten by and incorporated into animals. Animals return the carbon to the air in the form of carbon dioxide, and the cycle starts again. (See photosynthesis and respiration.)