The underlying mechanism of eutrophication and its environmental impacts can be approached by considering the matter-flow rate mechanisms of each crucial element cycle of the nutrient-enriched ecosystem, together with requisite interactions between these element cycles. The balanced aquarium is taken as a prototype aquatic ecosystem, giving rise to a rudimentary element-cycle model. Such models are then employed to demonstrate how element cycles may interact via functional intercoupling through rate-law dependencies and via physical interconnection through transport processes. The resulting behavior includes free and forced limit cycles, which approach “multivibrator” response in limiting cases. These features and other system properties are analyzed and discussed in some detail.

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