US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District Website Website

Process overview: element cycling

Element cycling diagramElement cycling is the breakdown of organic matter into its constituent elements for re-use in the ecosystem.


The figure at right is a generalized diagram of carbon transformation in wetlands (Mitsch and Gosselink 1993).

Structures that affect element cycling:

  • Deep channel
  • Emergent marsh
  • Mud / sand flats
  • Plankton
  • Scrub-shrub forest
  • Shallow slope
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation


Ecosystem functions that are affected by element cycling:

Contact information

Ronald Thom, Ph.D

Marine Research Operations, PNNL
1529 W. Sequim Bay Rd.
Sequim, WA 98382