Nutrient storage and cycling

Ecosystems perform the vital function of recycling nutrients. These nutrients include the elements of the atmosphere as well as those found in the soil, which are necessary for the maintenance of life. Biological diversity is essential in this process. Plants are able to take up nutrients from the soil as well as from the air, and these nutrients can then form the basis of food chains, to be used by a wide range of other life forms. The soil's nutrient status, in turn, is replenished by dead or waste matter which is transformed by microorganisms; this may then feed other species such as earthworms which also mix and aerate the soil and make nutrients more readily available.