Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem

5 Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem Explained

Examples of biotic factors in an ecosystem are; microbes, macroorganisms, vascular plants, organic processes, and biomass.

This article discusses the examples of biotic factors in an ecosystem, as follows;







1). Microbes (as one of the Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem)

Microbes are biotic components or factors in an ecosystem, because they are organic in origin and nature.

Animals and plants classified as microbes are generally small in their dimensions, so that they may be studied in detail only with the aid of an image-magnifying device such as a microscope.

Microbes occupy a very important position in ecosystems, alongside larger animals and plants. They are crucial to the cycling of bioenergy and biomass, and may be found as secondary components of all trophic levels of food chains, energy pyramids and biomass pyramids.

The role of microbes in an ecosystem depends on the natural attributes and tendencies of the specific microbe(s) in question.

Nutrient-cycling is a common role of microbes like bacteria; which are responsible for the biodegradation (microbial decomposition) of organic matter to form inorganic nutrients that can be used by both plants and animals [7].

The feeding mannerisms and relationships of microbes range from autotrophic (photosynthetic) feeding, to parasitism, mutualism and predation.

Like all biotic factors, microbes are in constant interaction with abiotic components of their environment, such as soil, water, air, and physicochemical quantities (pH, temperature, humidity, salinity).

Biotic and abiotic factor-interactions in the case of microbes can be observed in soil modification, temperature changes, and increase or decrease in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), among others.

Due to their small size and resilience, microbes are versatile, ubiquitous organisms that can be found in all environments and biomes from aquatic ecosystems and deserts to tundras in polar terrain.

They play a central role in Earth's self-regulatory processes like carbon sequestration and nitrogen fixation. Microbes can also be used for human-engineered processes like bioremediation and soil conservation [1].

Some common examples of microbes in ecosystems are fungi, bacteria and microalgae.

Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Bacteria (Microbe) as a Key Contributor to Ecological Nutrient-Cycling (Credit: 148LENIN 2022 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Bacteria (Microbe) as a Key Contributor to Ecological Nutrient-Cycling (Credit: 148LENIN 2022 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)






2). Macroorganisms

Macro organisms are organisms whose body dimensions are large enough that they can be studied with unaided eyes.

These organisms are very important as biotic factors in an ecosystem, both because of their size their occurrence in all major biomes and trophic levels.

Macroorganisms may play the role of producer, primary, secondary and tertiary producer.

It must be noted that vascular plants and some algae are macro organisms (although vascular plants are separately discussed in this article).

The adaptive behaviors of macroorganisms are developed in response to the conditions of their environment; for the purpose of their survival under these conditions. This means that biotic and abiotic factors are constantly interacting, and shaping both the environment and the attributes of its inhabitants.

Various feeding habits also occur among macroorganisms; including mutualism, commensalism, parasitism, and autotropism.

Studies also show that macro organisms interact with microorganisms, and that the relationships existing between these groups are responsible for various ecological phenomena [5].

Classifications of macro organisms include mammalian, oviparous, reptilian, amphibious, warm-blooded and cold-blooded groups.






3). Vascular Plants (as one of the Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem)

Vascular plants are autotrophic organisms with conducting tissues (xylem and phloem) as well as stomata, lenticels, true leaves and roots [6].

The roles of vascular plants in the ecosystem range from food production, to environment conservation, modification and energy supply.

Most vascular plants produce food photosynthetically, by converting solar energy to chemical bioenergy which they use for growth (biomass-production) and survival.

Conserving the environment is a role of vascular plants that can be observed in the form of natural soil-conservation, water conservation, air quality improvement/conservation, and nutrient cycling.

Vascular plants produce biomass that can serve as a renewable energy resource (biofuel) for heating, among other uses [4].

The habitat of vascular plants stretches from terrestrial zones to marine, freshwater zones and wetlands.

However, these plants are particularly abundant in terrestrial habitats like forests and grasslands, where they serve as the dominant producers in the food chain [2].

Examples of vascular plants are gymnosperms like the conifers, angiosperms or flowering plants, and ferns.

Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Vascular Plants (Credit: Unknown, Leipzig ; Berlin ; Wien : F.A. Brockhaus 1892)
Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Vascular Plants (Credit: Unknown, Leipzig ; Berlin ; Wien : F.A. Brockhaus 1892)






4). Organic Processes

While they are not conventionally included, organic processes are in fact one of the biotic factors in an ecosystem, because they are driven by biological elements.

These processes can be described as including all reactions and transformations that are dominated by living organisms and organic compounds. While they also involve abiotic/inorganic elements, organic processes are distinguished by their inability to occur at any level in the absence of their organic constituents.

Examples of biotic processes are biodegradation, reproduction, feeding, and respiration.

Nutrient-cycling, while including living organisms, is not a purely-biotic process as it can proceed in the absence of biological influence.

Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Feeding as one of the Biotic Processes (Credit: Gareth Rasberry 2013 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem: Feeding as one of the Biotic Processes (Credit: Gareth Rasberry 2013 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)






5). Biomass (as one of the Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem)

Biomass or organic matter is a biotic component that occurs in all organisms and processes.

Organic matter in an ecosystem refers to material that is composed of organic compounds, derived from living organisms and their activities.

One of the important roles of biomass is as a source of nutrients and energy. The breakdown of organic materials in soil is necessary for continuous availability of nutrients for organic survival [3].

Examples of organic matter in living organisms and biological processes include starchy and proteinous materials.








Examples of biotic factors in an ecosystem are;

1. Microbes

2. Macroorganisms

3. Vascular Plants

4. Organic Processes

5. Biomass







1). Ahmed, A.; Ahmed, Q.; Abraham, O. K.; Babalola, O. O. (2019). "Microbial Inoculants for Improving Carbon Sequestration in Agroecosystems to Mitigate Climate Change." Handbook of Climate Change Resilence. 'Climate Change Management Series' (pp.119-1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71025-9_119-1. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

2). Brunbjerg, A. K.; Bruun, H. H.; Dalby, L.; Fløjgaard, C.; Frøslev, T. G.; Høye, T. T.; Goldberg, I.; Læssøe, T.; Hansen, M. DD.; Brøndum, L.; Skipper, L.; Fog, K.; Ejrnæs, R. (2018). "Vascular plant species richness and bioindication predict multi-taxon species richness." Methods in Ecology and Evolution 9(12). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13087. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

3). Guigue, J. (2014). "Influence of biotic and abiotic factors on soil organic matter dynamics assessed by the biogeochemical characterisation of soluble organic matter." Available at:

4). Lu, K. J.; van 't Wout Hofland, N.; Mor, E.; Mutte, S.; Abrahams, P.; Kato, H.; Vandepoele, K.; Weijers, D.; De Rybel, B. (2020). "Evolution of vascular plants through redeployment of ancient developmental regulators." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 7;117(1):733-740. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1912470117. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

5). Rapacciuolo, G.; Beman, J. M.; Schiebelhut, L. M.; Dawson, M. N. (2019). "Microbes and macro-invertebrates show parallel β-diversity but contrasting α-diversity patterns in a marine natural experiment." Proc Biol Sci. 2019 Oct 9;286(1912):20190999. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0999. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

6). Raven, J. A. (1977). "The Evolution of Vascular Land Plants in Relation to Supracellular Transport Processes." Advances in Botanical Research, Volume 5, 1977, Pages 153-219. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2296(08)60361-4. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

7). Sahu, N.; Vasu, D.; Sahu, A.; Lal, N.; Singh, S. K. (2017). "Strength of Microbes in Nutrient Cycling: A Key to Soil Health." Agriculturally Important Microbes for Sustainable Agriculture (pp.69-86). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-5589-8_4. (Accessed 24 April 2023).

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