Shaping the ecosystem is essential, especially in sustaining the life cycle. The two important factors for shaping the ecosystem are biotic and abiotic factors.

They affect not just the reproduction process but also the survival of organisms. If one of the components of the biotic and abiotic factors are altered, the entire ecosystem will be affected.

What is a Biotic factor : Definition

Biotic is a combination of two terms: bio and ic. Bio means life while ic means like. Therefore, biotic means “life-like”. It pertains to all living organisms found in the ecosystem. The ecosystem’s composition is greatly affected by the presence of biotic factors and their by-products. (1, 2, and 3)

Examples of biotic factors

Biotic factors consist of all living creatures like:

  • humans
  • animals
  • plants
  • bacteria
  • fungi

In the ecosystem, they are referred to as producers, consumers, decomposers, and detritivores.

What is an Abiotic factor : Definition

It pertains to all non-living factors that are present in the ecosystem, both physical and chemical factors. (3)

Examples of Abiotic factors

Examples are :

  • water
  • land
  • sunlight
  • atmosphere
  • precipitation
  • minerals
  • hydrosphere
  • lithosphere.

These are important as they have a great impact on the reproduction and survival of different species found in the ecosystem. (3, 4)

biotic vs abiotic factors difference

The table below shows the differences between biotic and abiotic factors.

Key differencesBiotic FactorAbiotic Factor
Meaning/definitionIt pertains to all living organisms that can be found in the ecosystem.It pertains to all non-living factors that can greatly affect the reproduction and survival of living things.
OriginThey originate from the biosphere.They come from the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere.
  • Flora and fauna
  • Humans
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Algae
  • Producers
  • Consumers
  • Decomposers (responsible for the transformation and transport of energy through the food cycle) (4, 5)
  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Humidity
  • Air
  • Temperature
  • Salinity
  • Precipitation
  • Minerals
  • Altitude
  • Wind
  • Soil
  • Rocks
  • Tides
  • Rain
DependenceBiotic factors are dependent on their environment (abiotic factors). Without abiotic factors it will be impossible for biotic factors to survive and reproduce.Abiotic factors are self-sufficient; they can survive even without the presence of biotic factors.
MeasurementBiotic factors measurement is subjective.The abiotic factors’ measurement is based on objective details.
RelationshipOrganisms in the ecosystem can directly or indirectly relate to other organisms.Abiotic factors determines the type and number of organisms that survive in the ecosystem.
AdaptationThey have the ability to adapt to any changes the environment would take.They don’t have the ability to adapt to changing conditions in the environment.
ResourcesResources for biotic factors include forest, resources that can be found in marine life, forest products, and the likes. (5, 6)Resources for abiotic factors include water, land, soil, and coal. (6)
Limiting factorsAny changes that might take place in one biotic factor does not seem to have a direct effect on other groups.Any changes in any of the components of the abiotic factors may directly or indirectly affect the biotic factors.
AssociationThey have the ability to form associations with different types of biotic factors such as symbiosis, predator-prey association, and parasitism. (7)Abiotic factors do not form any associations.

The significance of biotic factors

  • Anything that has life is categorized as biotic, from the word itself, bio means life. Of all biotic factors, humans are the most important.
  • They greatly affect the condition of the environment as well as the survival of other organisms. As the world continues to evolve and technological advancements flourish, changes in the global ecosystem were noticed.
  • The natural balance in the ecosystem is altered causing changes in climate and other natural occurrences.

A perfect example is the carbon cycle as a result of the growing numbers of industries, factories, and automobiles.

  • They emit a large amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are harmful to the environment.
  • They significantly affect the quality of the air we breath in. Other biotic activities such as deforestation and urbanization have caused drastic changes in the ecosystem, particularly in the bodies of water and land.
  • These changes contribute to climate change and resulted in the mass extinction of different forms of life. this goes to show that although humans are the important parts of the ecosystem, they are also the most potent one. They can make or break the chain. (7, 8, and 9)

The first-ever biotic factor that exists on earth

Don’t you know that humans are not the first living organisms that exist on earth?

The first living organism that ever exists on earth is cyanobacteria. They are a single-celled autotrophic organism that has a major role to play in the development of the global ecosystem.

They are the ones in charge of storing solar energy to be used for the conversion of inorganic carbon compounds into organic.

They also play a vital role in the production of oxygen from carbon dioxide. The release of oxygen has paved the way for the existence of other organisms. (9, 10)

The significance of abiotic factors

  • There are different forms of abiotic factors and each has an important role to play in the ecosystem.
  • Temperature, in particular, determine the rate of metabolic reaction, which has a direct impact on the survival of biotic factors.
  • One should keep in mind that as the temperature rises, the enzyme-catalyzed reaction rate also rises and will eventually cause the enzyme to denature. Such a process can halt different chemical reactions thereby affecting the different types of living organisms in the ecosystem.
  • The temperature can also cause changes in the type of organism that could survive in the ecosystem.
  • Another component of the abiotic factor is light. The presence of light has something to do with the rate of photosynthesis in producers.
  • It also directly affects the breeding cycles of animals. However, the presence of sunlight has something to do with other environmental factors such as the water cycle and rainfall.
  • Any alteration in one of the components of the abiotic factor can have a drastic effect on the living organisms (biotic factor) as well as the entire components of the ecosystem. (3, 6, 9, and 10)

Key terms in the study of biotic and abiotic factors

  1. Ecology – It pertains to the interaction of different organisms with one another and their interaction with the environment.
  2. Biotic factors – It pertains to living organisms found in the ecosystem.
  3. Abiotic factors – It encompasses non-living things that have a huge impact on living organisms (biotic) and the environment as a whole.
  4. Species – It pertains to a group of organisms that are similar in the way of living, mate, and production of offspring.
  5. Population – It is somewhat similar to species, but the difference is that the population refers to a group of individuals that belong to the same species and living in the same area.
  6. Ecosystem – It is an umbrella term for organisms that live in a particular community with their physical surroundings.
  7. Biodiversity – It refers to the variation of organisms living in the ecosystem.
  8. Biosphere – It pertains to the entirety of ecosystems on earth.

Biotic and abiotic factors go hand in hand. Each plays an important role in keeping the balance of the ecosystem. Any wrongful deeds caused by biotic factors could have a drastic effect on the entirety of the ecosystem. Hence, it is important to maintain balance between the difference components of the ecosystem. (2, 5, and 8)



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