carbon cycle

The circulation of carbon between living organisms and their surroundings. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is synthesized by plants into plant tissue, which is ingested and metabolized by animals and converted to carbon dioxide again during respiration and decay.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. S.v. "carbon cycle." Retrieved August 15 2016 from

Carbon Cycle [cite]

Diagram adapted from U.S. DOE, Biological and Environmental Research Information System.