In nature, phosphorus cycles naturally through the soil, water, and plant and animal tissues. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for living organisms, and its importance to life on Earth can be observed most easily in a lake or stream. When relatively large amounts of phosphorus enter a body of water through natural or human activities, it often causes an “algal bloom,” as hundreds of algae cells take advantage of the injection of nutrients. Like most nutrient cycles, however, the phosphorus cycle can be thrown off balance. Human activities like deforestation and over-fertilizing of crop fields can result in too much phosphorus entering a stream, lake, or ocean. This results in an algae population explosion that can be harmful to many other aquatic life forms.
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