Biogeochemistry, 3rd Edition

An Analysis of Global Change

Biogeochemistry, 3rd Edition,W.H. Schlesinger,Emily Bernhardt,ISBN9780123858740


Academic Press




235 X 191

Considers how the basic chemical conditions of the planet have been and are being determined by the existence of life on Earth and analyzes the increasing demands of the growing human population on limited resources and the resulting changes in the chemical makeup of the planet.

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Key Features

  • Winner of a 2014 Texty Award from the Text and Academic Authors Association
  • Calculates and compares the effects of industrial emissions, land clearing, agriculture, and rising population on Earth's chemistry
  • Synthesizes the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur, and suggests the best current budgets for atmospheric gases such as ammonia, nitrous oxide, dimethyl sulfide, and carbonyl sulfide
  • Includes an extensive review and up-to-date synthesis of the current literature on the Earth's biogeochemistry


Biogeochemistry—winner of a 2014 Textbook Excellence Award (Texty) from the Text and Academic Authors Association—considers how the basic chemical conditions of the Earth, from atmosphere to soil to seawater, have been and are being affected by the existence of life. Human activities in particular, from the rapid consumption of resources to the destruction of the rainforests and the expansion of smog-covered cities, are leading to rapid changes in the basic chemistry of the Earth.

This expansive text pulls together the numerous fields of study encompassed by biogeochemistry to analyze the increasing demands of the growing human population on limited resources and the resulting changes in the planet's chemical makeup.

The book helps students extrapolate small-scale examples to the global level, and also discusses the instrumentation being used by NASA and its role in studies of global change. With extensive cross-referencing of chapters, figures and tables, and an interdisciplinary coverage of the topic at hand, this updated edition provides an excellent framework for courses examining global change and environmental chemistry, and is also a useful self-study guide.


Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students in geochemistry, ecology, earth, and soil sciences, especially those with interest in global change or environmental chemistry.

W.H. Schlesinger

Affiliations and Expertise

Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Emily Bernhardt

Dr. Emily S. Bernhardt is Assistant Professor at Duke University in the Department of Biology. She currently teaches biogeochemistry. A graduate of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (B.S) and Cornell University (PhD.) and her areas of interest include biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, stream and wetland ecology, urban ecology, and restoration ecology.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Biogeochemistry, 3rd Edition




Part I: Processes and Reactions

Chapter 1. Introduction

What is biogeochemistry?

Understanding the earth as a chemical system

Scales of endeavor

Lovelock’s gaia

Recommended Readings

Chapter 2. Origins


Origins of the Elements

Origin of the solar system and the solid earth

Origin of the atmosphere and the oceans

Origin of life

Evolution of metabolic pathways

Comparative planetary history: earth, mars, and venus


Recommended Readings

Chapter 3. The Atmosphere


Structure and Circulation

Atmospheric Composition

Biogeochemical Reactions in the Troposphere

Atmospheric Deposition

Biogeochemical Reactions in the Stratosphere

Models of the Atmosphere and Global Climate


Recommended Readings

Chapter 4. The Lithosphere


Rock weathering

Soil chemical reactions

Soil development

Weathering rates


Recommended Readings

Chapter 5. The Biosphere: The Carbon Cycle of Terrestrial Ecosystems




Net Primary Production

Net Ecosystem Production and Eddy-Covariance Studies

The Fate of Net Primary Production

Remote Sensing of Primary Production and Biomass

Global Estimates of Net Primary Production and Biomass

Net Primary Production and Global Change


Soil Organic Matter and Global Change


Recommended Readings

Chapter 6. The Biosphere: Biogeochemical Cycling on Land


Biogeochemical cycling in land plants

Nutrient allocations and cycling in land vegetation

Biogeochemical cycling in the soil

Calculating landscape mass balance

Human impacts on terrestrial biogeochemistry


Recommended Readings

Chapter 7. Wetland Ecosystems


Types of wetlands

Productivity in wetland ecosystems

Organic matter storage in wetlands

Microbial metabolism in saturated sediments

Anaerobic metabolic pathways

Wetlands and water quality

Wetlands and global change


Recommended Readings

Chapter 8. Inland Waters





Human impacts on inland waters


Recommended Readings

Chapter 9. The Oceans


Ocean circulation

The composition of seawater

Net primary production

Sediment diagenesis

The biological pump: a model of carbon cycling in the ocean

Nutrient cycling in the ocean

Biogeochemistry of hydrothermal vent communities

The marine sulfur cycle

The sedimentary record of biogeochemistry


Recommended Readings

Part II: Global Cycles

Chapter 10. The Global Water Cycle


The global water cycle

Models of the hydrologic cycle

The history of the water cycle

The water cycle and climate change


Recommended Readings

Chapter 11. The Global Carbon Cycle


The modern carbon cycle

Temporal perspectives on the carbon cycle

Atmospheric methane

Carbon monoxide

Synthesis: linking the carbon and oxygen cycles


Recommended Readings

Chapter 12. The Global Cycles of Nitrogen and Phosphorus


The global nitrogen cycle

Temporal variations in the global nitrogen cycle

Nitrous oxide

The global phosphorus cycle

Linking global biogeochemical cycles


Recommended Readings

Chapter 13. The Global Cycles of Sulfur and Mercury


The global sulfur cycle

The global mercury cycle


Recommended Reading

Chapter 14. Perspectives

Recommended Reading



Quotes and reviews

"Biogeochemistry is a multidisciplinary field that studies the interactions, over both human and geological timescales, of living things and the earth's chemical cycles…Throughout the book there is a focus on the ways in which humans have intervened in these cycles in recent times."--Reference & Research Book News, October 2013
"[The third edition of] the now classic text by Bill Schlesinger not only updates, but expands upon the earlier editions. This is a must read, ‘one stop shop’ for a basic, yet detailed text on contemporary biogeochemical cycles, writ large. While the author does describe basic cycles in an historical context, the primary focus is on contemporary cycles, their interactions, and the effects of humans on them. A tour de force that will be referred to often, the book is a must-read for anyone working in the general area of biogeochemistry."--Paul Falkowski, Rutgers University
"A comprehensive treatment of the field of Biogeochemistry, which is both expanding rapidly and becoming increasingly important for helping identify sustainability. We can’t all be specialists on all of these topics, but this book will quickly bring you up to speed on a full range of biogeochemical processes and cycles. A read and reference for every serious Earth Systems scientist and student."--Eric Davidson, The Woods Hole Research Center
"The new edition of William Schlesinger’s Biogeochemistry offers a clearly written, well-documented introduction to what every person should know if we are to navigate successfully to a sustainable future for our planet."--Michael McElroy, Harvard University

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