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The nutrient web is an interconnected set of processes that happen in no particular order; in fact, these processes happen at the same time.


  • Parent materials form through the sedimentation of nutrients, such as minerals and elements, over a period of time and this leads to the formation of bedrock and the larger rocks in soil.

Figure 16 shows the process of sedimentation, where heavier particles fall to the bottom faster than lighter particles.


  • Perturbation covers all processes that alter soil and comes from the root word perturb, which means to alter from its original condition.
  • The break down and mixing of parent material and soil is called pedoturbation. Pedo refers to soil.
    • Everything from a landslide to plate tectonics is included in pedoturbation.
  • Bioturbation is the process when living creatures break down and mix the soil. The prefix bio refers to living creatures.
    • Bioturbation includes larger burrowing animals such as prairie dogs or moles, to smaller creatures such as worms eating their way through the soil.


  • Nutrients released from the parent material can stay in the soil in either a solid state, in a liquid solution, or in a gaseous mixture.
  • The nutrients can be consumed or absorbed by plants and animals.


  • The nutrients absorbed by plants and animals will eventually be released, or desorbed, through the exhaling of gases, expelling of solid and liquid waste, or upon the creature's death and decomposition.

Figure 17 shows the interconnectedness of the nutrient web. Original image by tom.

Factors of Nutrient Web
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