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Carbon process: Respiration

Updated Sunday, 7th May 2000

Breathing keeps the carbon circulating.

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The process is of fundamental importance for all life on Earth - this includes the small detritivores that decompose and digest organic matter in the soil. What the detritivores can't digest is excreted and their faeces sustain an army of even smaller decomposers, from tiny worms to microscopic bacteria.

Some of the organic carbon from food is used to build new tissues. But most is broken down in respiration and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

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