Nitrogen is one of the elements necessary for animals to sustain life. Nitrogen is essential for all living things. Nitrogen exists in the ground and plants and animals. It is also found in the atmosphere. Similar to the water cycle, nitrogen cycles through a process called the Nitrogen Cycle. Chemical and biological changes result in nitrogen cycling from the earth, through plants, into animals, being released back into the atmosphere, and returning to the earth through plants and animals dying and decomposing.
The Nitrogen Cycle works as follows:
- plants and animals die
- decomposers break down the plant and animals
- organic material is formed
- bacteria make chemical changes making nitrogen in soil available for plants
- plants grow from the soil
- some plants access atmospheric nitrogen
- animals consume plants
- nitrogen is ingested through consumption of the plants -plants die, and the process starts over
The primary ways in which animals obtain Nitrogen is through breathing and digestion of plants.