|MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology|
James: In many ecosystems phosphorus is a limiting nutrient. This means that as the bodies of organisms are searching for nutrients in the environment, phosphorus is commonly the first nutrient to become scarce or unavailable. The result is that organisms are less numerous and/or smaller than they would be if phosphorus was more abundant. Phosphorus is a critical nutrient -- organisms have to have it. It plays a role in photosynthesis in plants, and is important in energy transfer within organisms. DNA includes phosphorus so all organisms need it for growth and reproduction. If animals don't have enough phosphorus, rickets (improper bone calcification) is one consequence. In plants, a lack of phosphorus arrests growth, delays maturity, and stunts roots. I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. David C. Kopaska-Merkel Head, Ground Water Section Geological Survey of alabama PO Box 869999 Tuscaloosa AL 35486-6999 (205) 349-2852 FAX (205) 349-2861 Reference: R. L. Smith, 1974, Ecology and field biology, 2nd ed., New York, Harper and Row, 850 p.
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