Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors Comparison Based on Nine(9) Criteria

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors Comparison Based on Nine(9) Criteria

Table of contents

Biotic vs abiotic factors can be compared using criteria like their definition(s), examples, general importance, overview of functions, effects on trophic relations/environmental conditions/species diversity, role(s) in organic adaptation/resource conservation and nutrient cycling.

This article addresses the biotic vs abiotic factors comparison, based on multiple criteria, as follows;







1). Definition (as a criterion for comparison of Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors)

Biotic vs abiotic factor comparison can be carried out on the basis of definitions, of biotic and abiotic factors respectively. This is shown below;


Definition of Biotic Factors (and Their Interactions)

Biotic factors refer to all living organisms and their biological interactions, as well as products within an ecosystem [2].

These factors are critical in shaping the structure, functioning, and dynamics of any biome.

Biotic components include a wide variety of living organisms, such as plants and animals, as well as microbes like fungi and bacteria.

The interactions between biotic factors are often complex, and include diverse ecological relationships like competition, predation, symbiosis and mutualism [1].

Biotic factors also influence the abundance and distribution of species within ecosystems, and can impact energy flow, nutrient cycling, and overall ecological equilibrium.


Definition of Abiotic Factors, With Examples

Abiotic factors are the inorganic and non-living components of the environment, which influence and define the structure of ecosystems.

They include various chemical and physical entities, which have a notable effect on the abundance, adaptation, and distribution of living organisms that interact with them.

Unlike the biotic factors that comprise of living organisms and biological processes, abiotic factors are generally inorganic, and do not possess biological characteristics in terms of origin, sustenance and chemical composition.

Some examples of abiotic factors are; light, temperature, water, atmospheric gases, soil, salinity, pH, and wind. Below is a brief overview of the ecologic relevance of each of these factors;

The intensity and amount of light from solar radiation, in a given environment, both determine which plants are able to perform photosynthesis and survive effectively.

This is because different plant species have evolved to tolerate and require different amounts of sunlight for growth [10]. Light is an important abiotic factor, because it is the primary form of energy in natural ecosystems, and is used for production of chemical bioenergy which living organisms need.

The average temperature of any given ecosystem also affects the types of organisms that can survive and thrive there, because different species have varying levels of temperature tolerance.

This is obvious in the tendency of some organisms to thrive in hot deserts, and others in cold tundra biomes respectively. Temperature can influence the species richness, composition and diversity of ecosystems.

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Average Temperature Conditions Determine the Organisms that Survive in a Given Ecosystem (Credit: Algkalv 2010 .CC BY 3.0.)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Average Temperature Conditions Determine the Organisms that Survive in a Given Ecosystem (Credit: Algkalv 2010 .CC BY 3.0.)



Water is an essential abiotic resource whose availability directly affects the distribution and ecological performance of animals, microorganisms and plants within an ecosystem.

The concentration of gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen in the air (and water) can have significant impact on the wellbeing of organisms, by directly influencing their respiration and metabolism.

These gases are at the core of some important ecologic phenomena like carbon cycling, sequestration, nitrogen fixation, and oxygen cycling.

Composition and characteristics of soil, including its mineralogy, texture, nutrient content and pH, all influence the species of plants that can grow in a particular area, and their performance.

The salt-content or salinity of soil and water bodies like oceans, ponds and lakes, can determine the species composition of ecosystems, especially in terms of aquatic organisms and their survival/distribution.

pH, which is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of soil and water [19] can affect the growth and survival of organisms, as well as the general condition of the environment.

Wind-flow patterns can influence the adaptation of plants and the trend of seed dispersal, while also impacting the behavior of flying, ground-dwelling, and aquatic organisms.






2). Examples

Biotic vs abiotic factor comparison can be viewed from the perspective of individual examples.


Examples of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem

Biotic factors are living, once-living or organically-derived components of an ecosystem, which have a direct or indirect influence on organisms, biological processes, and the overall environment

Examples of biotic factors in an ecosystem are; autotrophic producers, heterotrophic consumers, decomposers; and organic members of biological associations including; predators, prey, scavengers; mutualists, commensals, parasites and competitors.


Each of these examples is highlighted briefly below;


1. Autotrophic organisms like algae and plants, are primary producers that capture and convert solar radiation into chemical energy through photosynthesis [9]. They form the basal level or foundation of the energy pyramid/food chain in most terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems

2. Heterotrophic organisms that feed on other organisms (including primary producers) to obtain nutrients and energy are consumers.

They can be categorized into various trophic groups based on their feeding habits, being described as herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores

3. Fungi, bacteria, and detritivorous invertebrates are decomposers that facilitate the breakdown or biodegradation of organic matter, such as the remains and waste of dead plants and animals, into simpler products, thereby releasing nutrients back into the ecosystem

4. Predators are organisms that actively hunt, capture and kill other animals for food. They gain energy, nutrients and biomass by consuming the biomass of these other animals

Predators play a critical part in the control of prey populations, and the maintenance of ecological balance

5. Animals that are hunted, captured and consumed as food by predators constitute the prey population. Their survival depends on evolved strategies, including speed of locomotion, camouflage, and defensive morphological structures, all of which are used to elude predators

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Camouflage is an Adaptive Strategy in Prey Species, for Eluding Predators (Credit: Mikkel Houmøller 2009 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Camouflage is an Adaptive Strategy in Prey Species, for Eluding Predators (Credit: Mikkel Houmøller 2009 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)


6. Scavengers are a group of organisms that can consume dead and decomposing organic matter from other animals. They help in cleaning up the environment by removing potentially-pathogenic decaying materials, and recycling nutrients in such materials, back into the ecosystem

7. Mutualists are organisms involved in mutualism; which is a biological dynamic where two or more species benefit from their trophic interactions [21].

An example is the mutualistic relationship between bees and flowering plants, where bees obtain nectar for food while serving as pollinators that help the plants reproduce

8. Commensals are organisms involved in commensalism; a relationship in which one organism benefits, while the other is generally unaffected. An example of commensalism is the attachment of barnacles to whales for transportation, without any benefit or harm to the whales

9. Parasites are organisms which live in or on other organisms (called the hosts) and derive nourishment and/or shelter usually at the expense of these hosts [4]

10. Competitors are organisms that struggle against each other for limited resources, like shelter, space, food, mates and water. The competition between these organisms can lead to adaptation and niche differentiation/specialization


Examples of Abiotic Factors in an Ecosystem

As earlier stated, abiotic factors are non-living constituent of an ecosystem which influence the conditions and living organisms within it.

These factors shape the attributes of the physical environment, and play an important role in determining the trend of organic life in an ecosystem, in terms of species abundance, and distribution.


Examples of abiotic factors in an ecosystem are;

1. Sunlight

2. Temperature

3. Water

4. Soil

5. Atmospheric gases

6. Wind

7. Nutrients

8. pH

9. Topography

10. Relief


The table below summarizes biotic vs abiotic factors in terms of examples;

Biotic Factors

Abiotic Factors

Autotrophic producers, heterotrophic consumers, decomposers; and organic members of biological associations including; predators, prey, scavengers; mutualists, commensals, parasites, competitors

Sunlight, temperature, water, soil, atmospheric gases, wind, nutrients, pH, topography, relief






3). General Importance (as a criterion for comparison of Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors)

The general importance of biotic and abiotic factors respectively, is addressed as a comparative criterion, in this section.


Importance of Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem

Biotic factors are of paramount importance in determining the structure, dynamics, and function(s) of ecosystems.

Some major reasons why biotic factors are essential include; trophic interdependence, role in nutrient-cycling, population regulation, contribution to biodiversity, role in seed dispersal and pollination, oxygen production, carbon sequestration, habitat creation, and ecological services.


These areas of importance are highlighted in their order; among the points below;


1. Biotic factors are interconnected and interdependent, in complex ecological relationships which are studied as food chains, as well as energy and biomass pyramids.

The biotic factors rely on each other for the basic elements of sustainability including food, and shelter, in a dynamic which created a delicate balance within the ecosystem

2. Nutrient cycling is another area in which biotic factors, particularly decomposers, are involved.

Biological organisms, interactions and processes lead to the breakdown of organic matter and release of both energy and nutrients, which are then recycled back into the ecosystem to ensure a continuous supply of essential elements for development and growth

3. Predators and prey interact actively within an ecosystem, in such a manner that regulates their respective population sizes [3] and prevents any single species from becoming excessively dominant

4. Biotic factors contribute to diversity of life in ecosystems, by creating various ecological niches, and facilitating increase in resilience and tolerance of environmental changes

5. Seed dispersal and pollination are facilitated by biotic factors including birds, herbivorous animals and insects. Plants depend on these biotic factors for reproduction and the spread (as well as evolution) of species

6. Oxygen production is carried out by photosynthetic organisms like algae and plants, which release oxygen as a byproduct of the process of photosynthesis. The gas is essential for sustaining life on Earth

7. Biotic factors, like forests and tundra permafrost, help to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in a process that mitigates the rate and environmental impact of climate change [6]

8. Habitat creation and modification can also be attributed to biotic factors like vegetation, which provide shelter and food resources for diverse organisms to thrive

9. Ecosystem services provided by biotic factors often benefit the human populations. These include air quality maintenance, agricultural productivity, and resource conservation

*Importance of Biotic Factors in an Aquatic Ecosystem

In an aquatic ecosystem, the importance of biotic factors is based on organic activity and biological processes, which lead to nutrient cycling, environmental modification, and overall ecosystem sustenance.

Aquatic organisms, including large marine mammals, fish and phytoplankton, contribute to nutrient cycling, support the marine food chain, and play a major role in maintaining the productivity and health of both freshwater and marine environments.

*Most Important Biotic Factors in an Ecosystem

The most important biotic factors in an ecosystem can vary with geographic location and specific ecosystem-type. For example, trees are one of the most important biotic factors in a forest ecosystem, while in a shallow coral reef ecosystem, the most important biotic factors include corals and their symbiotic relationships with algae (zooxanthellae) [14].


General Importance of Abiotic Factors in an Ecosystem

The general importance of abiotic factors can be said to include their roles in habitat formation, ecologic indexing (as a limiting factor), productivity, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, evolution/adaptation, ecological succession, and stability of aquatic ecosystems.


Each of these areas of importance is briefly highlighted below;

1. Abiotic factors determine the types of habitats and microhabitats which are created and available to organisms in an ecosystem.

An example of this is the role of moisture and temperature conditions in dictating the presence of grasslands, deserts, wetlands, tundras or forests (including temperate, tropical) in any given region

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Moisture and Temperature Conditions Determine the Type of Biome/Microhabitats Present in a Given Region (Credit: wackybadger 2014 .CC BY-SA 2.0.)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Moisture and Temperature Conditions Determine the Type of Biome/Microhabitats Present in a Given Region (Credit: wackybadger 2014 .CC BY-SA 2.0.)



2. Abiotic factors often act as limiting factors that influence the trends of abundance and distribution, of species. Organisms must adapt in order to survive and thrive within specific ranges of moisture, temperature, and other physical conditions.

3. Ecosystem productivity is also influenced by abiotic factors in ecosystems.

This is because they directly affect the rate of photosynthesis in algae and plants. Adequate nutrients and sunlight, for example, are essential for plant growth

4. The availability and cycling-efficiency of nutrients are driven by abiotic factors.

An instance of this is the effect of soil mineralogy and chemical composition, on nutrient-availability to microbes and plants

5. Climate regulation is an important role of abiotic factors like water vapor and atmospheric gases, which are involved in regulating the Earth's climate.

These factors influence precipitation and temperature, among other climatic elements

6. Organic Evolution and adaptation are driven by abiotic factors. Over time, species may evolve specific traits in order to cope with the prevailing environmental conditions

7. The process of ecological succession is influenced by abiotic factors. These factors help determine the sequence of species-replacement and colonization, in an ecosystem

8. Lastly, abiotic factors such as dissolved oxygen concentration, pH, nutrient availability and water temperature, influence the stability and health of aquatic ecosystems, affecting aquatic organisms that include fish populations

*Importance of Temperature as an Abiotic Factor in Ecosystems

The importance of temperature as an abiotic factor, lies in its direct impact on the growth, survival and metabolic rates of organisms.

Temperature affects biochemical processes and elements, including the activity of enzymes in living organisms [8].

Many species are adapted to specific temperature ranges in which they can function optimally.

Temperature variations can also affect the distribution of species, and ecological interactions between them.

Largescale changes in temperature, which could occur in the form of global warming, can have drastic effects on ecosystems, including shifts in species distribution and composition, and disruptions to ecological processes.






4). Overview of Functions

Functions of biotic and abiotic factors respectively, can be analyzed as a means of comparing both components of ecosystems.


Overview of Functions of Biotic Factors

Biotic factors play important roles in the ecosystem. Some of the main functions of biotic factors include; food/biomass production, consumption and energy transfer, decomposition, pollination, seed dispersal, ecosystem engineering, environmental health indication, and evolution.


These functions are highlighted briefly below;

1. Producers like algae, cyanobacteria and plants, are biotic factors that form the foundation of the food chain in ecosystems.

They utilize sunlight to produce chemical energy through photosynthesis; which enables them provide energy and food for all other organisms in the ecosystem

2. Consumers are heterotrophic organisms like herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores, which obtain their nutrients and energy by consuming other organisms.

Their functions include energy transfer across the trophic levels, and regulation of organic population-sizes

3. Biotic factors such as fungi and bacteria may act as decomposers. These organisms break down organic matter and recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem

4. Another function of biotic factors like butterflies, birds and bees, is pollination. These pollinators facilitate the transfer of pollen between flowering plants, resulting in fertilization and the subsequent production of fruits and seeds [22]

5. Seed dispersal is carried out by biotic entities including some mammals and birds.

Through their natural activities, these organisms help disperse plant seeds to new locations across a relatively-wide area, thereby aiding in plant reproduction and colonization of new environmental zones

6. Predator-prey interactions between biotic components help maintain the stability and balance of ecosystems.

Predators control the prey population, preventing overpopulation, overgrazing and  resource depletion, while ensuring the survival of healthier individuals

7. Biotic factors also function effectively by engaging in mutualistic, parasitic and commensal relationships which contribute to ecological balance of the ecosystem.

8. Other functional interactions between biotic entities in ecosystems include competition for resources like mates, territory and food. Through such competition, biotic factors can influence the inorganic and organic dynamics of their environment

9. Some biotic factors (organisms) like earthworms and beavers, can be described as ecosystem engineers because they modify their environment by altering geomorphology, hydrology, soil structure and composition, as well as by building structures to provide habitats for themselves and other organisms [5]

10. Biotic factors can also act as indicators of the health of ecosystems.

The presence, abundance or absence of certain species can provide insights into the overall condition or wellbeing of an ecosystem

11. Lastly, biotic factors such as trophic interactions, function as drivers of evolution and adaptation, of living organisms.

Natural selection influences biotic factors, leading to the development of new traits that enhance reproduction and survival


Overview of Functions of Biotic Factors in Ecosystems

Some functions of abiotic factors include; temperature regulation, facilitation of photosynthesis, abundance and distribution of organisms, soil formation and modification, airborne seed dispersal and pollination, oxygen level control, salinity and organic survival, geographic structuring, and nutrient cycling.


These functions among others; are highlighted below;

1. Abiotic factors like solar (thermal) radiation and regional climate, determine the conditions of an ecosystem including its temperature.

Temperature influences the reproduction, growth and metabolic rates of organisms.

2. Sunlight is an important abiotic factor for photosynthesis in autotrophs like algae and plants, as it provides the energy required for the synthesis of organic compounds

3. Water availability and precipitation, are abiotic factors which influence the abundance and distribution of animal and plant species within an ecosystem [23]. Adequate water availability is essential for all forms of organic life

4. Abiotic factors associated with soil, such as pH, soil texture and nutrient levels, all impact plant growth and determine the types of plants that can thrive in a particular area

5. Wind is an abiotic factor whose functions include pollination and seed dispersal, and influences the evaporation rates of water bodies, which in turn affects ecosystem dynamics

6. Abiotic factors affect the levels of dissolved oxygen in aquatic ecosystems, which are important for the survival of aquatic organisms

7. Salt content in water bodies influence the types of species that can survive in both marine and freshwater environments

8. The geological characteristics of an area (which are abiotic factors) can affect the creation of habitats, and the availability of resources for organisms

9. Natural hazards like wildfires are often caused by abiotic factors such as volcanic activity and lightning, and can shape the species-composition and succession of plant communities

10. The acidity or alkalinity of an environment, driven by abiotic factors, can affect the reproduction, metabolism and survival of various organisms

11. Nutrient-cycling is also a function of abiotic factors which influence the availability and mobility of essential nutrients that are required for plant growth and productivity


Below is a table summarizing the functions of biotic and abiotic factors in ecosystems;

Biotic Factors

Abiotic Factors

Food/biomass production, consumption and energy transfer, decomposition, pollination, seed dispersal, ecosystem engineering, environmental health indication, evolution

Temperature regulation, facilitation of photosynthesis, abundance and distribution of organisms, soil formation and modification, airborne seed dispersal and pollination, oxygen level control, salinity and organic survival, geographic structuring, nutrient cycling






5). Effects on Trophic Relations (as a criterion for comparison of Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors)

Biotic factors have significant impacts on trophic relations within an ecosystem.

Trophic relations themselves refer to the feeding relationships and interactions that occur between different organisms in a food chain or web.

Biotic factors, which include all living organisms, determine the trend of trophic interactions and energy flow within ecosystems.


Effects of Biotic Factors on Trophic Relations Within an Ecosystem

Some of the effects of biotic factors on trophic relations are; trophic structuring/cascading, control of predation, competition and symbiosis trends, determination of trophic efficiency and stability.


1. Trophic structure is influenced by biotic factors, which determine the abundance and composition of organisms in every trophic level.

Producers, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and decomposers all contribute to the trophic composition/structure of an ecosystem.

The presence and diversity of these organisms, influence the stability and complexity of trophic relationships

2. Predator-prey dynamics are directly affected by biotic factors such as the presence and regional-abundance of predators.

The interaction between predators and prey, regulates population sizes, and changes in one population can lead to cascading effects on other populations and trophic levels

3. Interspecific competition for resources like mates, shelter and food, is a product of the interplay of biotic factors. Such competition also impacts the population dynamics of species within trophic levels.

For example, intense competition among herbivores or predators can alter trophic interactions and limit population sizes on a large scale

4. Trophic cascades are an outcome of the influence of biotic factors, where changes in the composition/abundance of one trophic level may have cascading effects throughout the food chain.

An increase in predator numbers may lead to a decline in the abundance of herbivores, which, in turn, will result in an increase in the abundance of plants

5. Symbiotic relationships can be attributed to biotic factors, such as the organisms involved in mutualism and commensalism.

These relationships influence the organisms involved, and also determine various aspects of the overall trophic structure, by providing benefits or causing harm to certain species in the food web

6. Trophic efficiency are affected by biotic factors.

It (trophic efficiency) is a measure of the amount of available energy that is transferred successfully from one trophic level to the next [24]. Efficiency can be influenced by factors such as prey availability and composition, predator behavior, and the nutrient content of food

7. Trophic stability is a function of the presence or absence of specific species in different trophic levels. Some species tend to have disproportionate effects on trophic interactions, and may affect the overall functioning and resilience, of the ecosystem


Effects of Abiotic Factors on Trophic Relations in Ecosystems

Abiotic factors have significant effects on trophic relations within an ecosystem.

Some of these effects are; metabolism/physical activity regulation, influence of photosynthesis and food supply, water and nutrient-supply control, distribution and behavioral effects through changes in oxygen availability, pH, salinity and geographical conditions.


1. Temperature is an important abiotic factor that directly affects the physiological functions and metabolic rates and physiological functions of organisms.

It influences feeding behaviors and activity levels of both producers and consumers.

In colder environments like the Arctic tundra, metabolic rates are usually relatively-slow, leading to reduced rates of reproduction and growth in the organic population. The reverse can be said of warmer ecosystems like tropical rainforests and hot deserts.

On a larger scale, this dynamic between abiotic conditions and metabolism can have cascading effects on trophic interactions in the entire ecosystem

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Warm Biomes like Tropical Rainforests are Associated with Relatively-High Metabolic Rates of Organisms (Credit: Alberto-g-rovi 2009 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Warm Biomes like Tropical Rainforests are Associated with Relatively-High Metabolic Rates of Organisms (Credit: Alberto-g-rovi 2009 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)


2. Light availability is an essential abiotic parameter for photosynthesis in all autotrophs, which are also the primary producers in most ecosystems.

The amount of light available determines productivity for these autotrophs, and in turn affects the food supply for herbivores and other groups of consumers.

Light availability influences predator-prey dynamics, because it affects the ability of predators to locate and capture their prey

3. Precipitation and availability of water are closely-related abiotic factors that affects organic abundance and spatial distribution, in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

In aquatic ecosystems, changes in the water level can alter food availability for organisms, which can in turn disrupt trophic interactions

4. Nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, are essential for the survival and growth of all living organisms.

The availability of such nutrients in an ecosystem, can affect primary productivity, which is the energy-based foundation of the food chain.

Changes in the availability of nutrients, can lead to shifts in species composition and trophic dynamics of the community

5. Oxygen concentrations in aquatic environments, are critical for the survival of organisms, with direct impact on trophic relations.

Areas with low oxygen levels experience notable effects on the behavior and distribution of aquatic consumers like fish

6. pH levels in an ecosystem influence the physiology of organisms and availability of nutrients.

Extremely high or low pH levels can be harmful to many species, and could lead to changes in both trophic interactions and overall community structure

7. In various ecosystems, salinity levels can affect the species or categories of organisms that can survive and thrive. This is especially the case in aquatic and soil ecosystems, where the ambient medium can experience changes in salinity on a temporal basis.

Organisms have varying degrees of salinity tolerance, so that changes in salt concentration can impact the composition of the food web and its component trophic relationships

8. Geographic factors and features like marine trenches, mountains and rivers, can influence the distribution and adaptation of organisms. This, in turn, affects their trophic interactions






6). Effects on Environmental Conditions

This section includes a comparison of biotic vs abiotic factors based on their respective effects on environmental conditions.


Effects of Biotic Factors on Environmental Conditions

The effects of biotic factors on environmental conditions can be said to include; nutrient cycling, oxygen production and consumption, habitat modification, erosion and soil formation, climate regulation, seed dispersal and pollination, biological control and bioturbation.


1. Nutrient cycling is an environmental effect of biotic factors like detritivores and decomposers, which play a role in resource recycling and nutrient release (into the environment).

These organisms break down organic matter and release nutrients from the biomass, back into water or soil, so that they become available for other organisms.

The process of biomass decomposition and nutrient release, influences the fertility and nutrient-content of the environment

2. Oxygen production and consumption is an environmental dynamic that is driven by photosynthetic organisms like cyanobacteria, algae and plants.

These photosynthetic organisms are responsible for producing oxygen in the process of photosynthesis.

Oxygen production directly affects the oxygen content of water and air, influencing the rate and efficiency of respiration of other organisms, including aerobic bacteria and animals

3. Habitat modification can also be attributed to biotic factors, which ate capable of altering their habitats significantly.

An example of the capability of corals to build coral-reef structures, which provide shelter and other kinds of biological support for a wide range of marine life

Such environmental modifications can alter the chemical and physical properties of the environment

4. Soil formation and erosion are influenced by soil organisms, as well as plant roots, which help stabilize soil, reducing erosion caused by water and wind.

As plants and animals die and decompose, they supply organic matter to the soil, promoting soil formation and increasing fertility

5. Climate regulation is an effect of biotic factors like vegetation, on the environment.

Plants affect local (micro)climate by providing shade, which helps regulate temperature, and by releasing water vapor through transpiration, to influence precipitation and humidity

6. Pollination, seed dispersal, predation and competition are all biotic factors that can directly affect population dynamics, which in turn affects the local environment

7. Biological control is an effect of biotic factors on the environment.

These factors can act as natural agents of control for various pest species.

Parasitoids and predators can help check the population sizes of certain populations [17], preventing numerical outbreaks that could negatively impact other local species, and alter the overall ecosystem balance

8. Bioturbation is a dynamic environmental effect of some organisms like insects and burrowing mammals, which disturb and mix sedimentary materials.

The process of bioturbation can influence nutrient availability, oxygenation and soil structure, so that it impacts the physical and chemical aspects of the environment

9. Ecological succession is a phenomenon driven by biotic factors.

It can be described as the process of gradual and continuous change in species-composition of a community over time.

As one community of organisms modifies its environment, it establishes conditions suitable for diverse species to colonize. This means that ecological succession leads to changes in environmental conditions


Effects of Abiotic Factors on Environmental Conditions

Some of the effects of abiotic factors on environmental conditions are outlined below;


1. Temperature significantly affects the activity and metabolism of organisms.

It determines the rate of various biochemical reactions, affects gas solubility in water, and also influences geographic distribution of species.

The environment's climatic condition is dependent on temperature

2. Light availability is important for photosynthetic organisms like phytoplankton, vascular and non-vascular plants

The intensity and duration of light in an environment can impact the growth and abundance of plants, which in turn has a profound effect on environmental conditions like oxygen availability, soil characteristics, and microclimate

3. Water availability is what defines the core attributes of different environments including wetlands, aquatic ecosystems, and terrestrial ecosystems.

The presence of water in these environments, also affects species diversity and productivity

4. Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor present in air. It is a climatic element that affects other abiotic factors like temperature and water availability, and helps shape the environment

5. pH (acidity/alkalinity) of soil and water affects the environment by influencing soil conditions, and nutrient availability

6. Wind is an abiotic factor that affects terrestrial and aquatic environments by contributing to geomorphology and distribution of resources

7. Salinity is a measure of the concentration of dissolved salts in water, and is known to affect aquatic environments like marine systems and brackish estuaries, in terms of chemistry and physical condition

8. Oxygen concentration is linked to other environmental dynamics like wind, temperature and humidity

9. Hazardous elements like wildfire are abiotic factors that influence and shape the structure of ecosystems, especially in terrestrial environments like forests and grasslands






7). Effects on Species Diversity (as a criterion for comparison of Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors)

Biotic factors, have effects on species diversity.

Species diversity is itself a measure of the abundance and variety species present in a habitat or ecosystem.

The interactions among biotic factors can affect the number of species, their relative abundance and distribution.

Effects of biotic factors on species diversity can be measured by observing ecologic dynamic of competition, predation, mutualism, herbivory, predator-prey interactions, keystone and invasive specie, and symbiosis.


1. Interspecific competition occurs when different species struggle for shared resources, such as food and microhabitats.

Excessively-intense levels of competition can lead to the exclusion and even the regional extermination, of some species, reducing diversity in the concerned area

2. Predation plays a vital role in regulating the populations of prey.

The presence of predators can influence the trends of occurrence, of prey species, which can have a cascading effect on the diversity of other organisms in the ecosystem

3. Mutualistic relationships, among organisms, promotes coexistence and tends to increase species diversity.

This can be seed in the regional sustenance of multiple plant species due to mutualism with pollinators

4. Herbivores that consume plant material, can facilitate evolutionary changes in plant communities, affecting diversity of the plant species, as well as that of of other organisms that depend (directly or indirectly) on these plants

5. The dynamics between prey and their predators can alter the species composition within an ecosystem.

Predators regulate prey populations, causing adaptive and exclusionary changes

6. Keystone species are biotic factors that can enhance species diversity by influencing the distribution of other species or promoting habitat complexity

7. Invasive species may have detrimental impacts on native biodiversity [11].

When they are introduced to a new ecosystem, these invasive species may outcompete the native population for resources, resulting in a diversity decline

8. Symbiosis, in the form of mutualism or commensalism, can establish unique ecological niches and increase species diversity within a given biome

9. Environmental modification by certain species can create conditions that are more favorable for both themselves and several other species


Effects of Abiotic Factors on Species Diversity

Effects of abiotic factors on species diversity can be assessed in terms of the relationship between organisms and environmental conditions. The outline below elaborates this;


1. Temperature is an abiotic factor that influences the occurrence and distribution of species.

Different organisms have specific range of temperature that permit their survival and reproduction.

Also, temperature gradients in an ecosystem can create diverse microhabitats and support a broad variety of species with varying levels of thermal tolerance

2. Water availability determines the survival of all living organisms.

In ecosystems, varying conditions of water availability have caused different species to adapt, and become either drought-resistant or water-dependent.

On a large scale, such adaptations result in diverse animal and pant communities

3. Light availability affects species diversity through its effect on primary productivity, and herbivore performance.

Lighted and shaded zones such as those in tropical rainforests, can establish diverse microhabitats [13] and influence the types of animal/plant species that can thrive

4. Composition and characteristics of soil, such as pH, mineralogy, texture and nutrient content, significantly influence plant growth and the species of organisms that can survive in an area.

Different species of plants are adapted to specific soil conditions, which leads to diverse plant communities.

The consequence of such diversification of plants, is an equally diverse animal community that depend on these plants

5. Physical, topographic features of the landscape, such as slope, aspect and elevation, all create a range of habitats, and influence microclimatic conditions.

Different organic species may be adapted to a specified range of topographic conditions, so that topographic diversity can contribute to species diversity in several cases

6. Salinity (concentration of dissolved salts) in ecosystems, can significantly influence species diversity.

Some species are adapted to freshwater conditions, while others thrive better in brackish or marine environments. Spatial variations in the absolute degree of salinity can therefore be accompanied by variations in the identity of species present

7. Abiotic factors involved in natural disasters, like heatwaves, wildfire, and regional flooding events, can create disturbances that may lead to changes in local species composition and provide opportunities for new species to colonize, adapt and become established

8. Spatial variations in oxygen availability; in water bodies, can directly impact the distribution of species, which are adapted to different oxygen concentrations

9. Pollination, seed dispersal, and migration patterns of organisms can all be influenced by wind; and can control the occurrence, diversity and distribution of species

10. Seasonal changes in abiotic factors like precipitation and temperature, can create variations in species diversity on a temporal basis.

Some species may be able to thrive during specific seasons, resulting in changes in the composition of ecosystems throughout the year






8). Role(s) in Organic Adaptation

The role(s) of biotic factors in organic adaptation is effective toward shaping the physiological characteristics, and survival strategies of living organisms within different environments.

Organic adaptation can be defined as the process whereby organisms undergo physical and behavioral changes in their traits, to better suit their specific circumstances and ecological niches, so that their chances of reproduction and survival can remain optimal.


Role(s) of Biotic Factors in Organic Adaptation

Biotic factors directly and indirectly influence organic adaptation through various mechanisms that competition, predation, herbivory, mutualism, as well as coevolution of predators and prey. These mechanisms are outlined alongside other related concepts below;


1. Competition among organisms for resources, causes these organisms to develop specialized adaptations which are designed to give them a competitive advantage over others

An example of this is the development of various physiological features and strategies in African savanna animals, to reduce competition when grazing on plant matter. These features include long necks in browsers like the giraffe [7]

2. The presence and activity of different organic groups like herbivores and predators, may exert selective pressure on both prey and plant species, so that they develop adaptations for camouflage, escape, and defense.

Prey animals may develop protective structures, speed or enhanced sensitivity, while plants may produce spines of toxic compounds to deter herbivores

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Spines in Some Plants are an Adaptive Feature for Defense Against Excessive Herbivory (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Spines in Some Plants are an Adaptive Feature for Defense Against Excessive Herbivory (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013)



3. Cooperative relationships like mutualism and symbiosis between species, can lead to the development of adaptive traits that are beneficial to both parties.

An example is the production of nectar by certain plants in order to attract and retain pollinators, and the development of adhesive structures like hairs in the pollinators for carrying pollen to other flowers

4. Predator-prey interactions can result in coevolution over time, where both predators and their prey develop adaptations to counter each other's advantageous traits.

5. Biotic factors are involved in natural selection; a process and phenomenon where individuals with favorable traits are more likely to reproduce and survive, passing their genetic advantages to the next generation.

This process leads to the gradual accumulation of multiple adaptations that enhance an organism's performance and fitness in its environment

6. Other forms of adaptive change that can be attributed to biotic factors, may involve resource partitioning, trophic interactions, and community structuring


Role(s) of Abiotic Factors in Organic Adaptation

The role of abiotic factors in organic adaptation is just as crucial as that of biotic factors, because it influences the survival strategies and physical characteristics of living organisms within their environments.


1. Different temperature regimes cause organisms to adapt in different ways, which could involve the development of insulating features like blubber [16], alteration of body size, or changes in behavior.

Unique temperature-related adaptations may be observed in ectothermic, cold-blooded animals like reptiles, which have developed behavioral tendencies to bask in the sun for thermoregulation

2. Light availability affects autotrophic photosynthesis, which in turn impacts the entire food chain.

Plants adapt to different intensities of light by altering their pigmentation, leaf size and shape.

Light also influences the activity-patterns and general behaviors of many organisms, leading to the development of diurnal, crepuscular, and nocturnal characteristics

3. Water availability is behind the adaptations of desert plants and animals which are challenged with the need to survive under arid conditions.

These organisms have evolved various traits for water conservation, including physiological and behavioral

4. pH and composition of soil, both influence nutrient availability, and affect the types of plants that can grow in a given area.

Certain plants have adapted to acidic soil conditions, while others thrive in alkaline soils

5. Salinity in aquatic ecosystems, directly influence the survival of organisms.

Some species have adapted to thrive in high-salinity environments, like oceans and saline mangroves, while others are adapted to freshwater conditions

6. Oxygen levels, and the general need for oxygen have led to adaptations in aerobic organisms. This is evident in the possession of gills in aquatic species like fish, and cutaneous respiration in amphibians

7. Air currents and wind can impact the growth and distribution of plants, as well as the behaviors and aerial navigation of land-based animals, and birds

8. Geological conditions and features, like caves, valleys, steep upland zones, and mountains, influence the availability of habitats and the migratory behaviors of species

9. Long-term climatic patterns, such as the La Niña and El Niño events [15] can influence resource availability and general weather conditions, so that they have a ripple effect on the characteristics of local species






9). Role(s) in Resource Conservation and Nutrient Cycling (as a criterion for comparison of Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors)

The role of biotic factors in resource conservation and nutrient cycling is linked to resource conservation and decomposition of organic matter. Some aspects of their contributions are mentioned below;


1. Biotic factors like fungi and plants, are involved in nutrient cycling within ecosystems.

Plants take up nutrients from the atmosphere and soil, assimilating and incorporating them into their tissues.

When plants (and animals) die, decomposers like fungi break down their biomass, and release nutrients back into the soil.

This process helps to ensure that essential elements like carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen are continuously recycled and available for utilization by other organisms

2. Decomposers are critical in the process of biodegradation, of organic matter such as the remains of dead plants and animals, to form simpler compounds.

This process of decomposition releases important nutrients that can be taken up subsequently by autotrophs, thereby completing the nutrient cycle.

In the absence decomposers, organic waste-matter would accumulate in the environment, and nutrients would remain locked up, probably leading to resource depletion

3. Carnivorous predators, and herbivores, regulate the population sizes of species that serve as their food sources

By keeping some species in check, they prevent overpopulation, overconsumption of resources and loss of ecological balance.

This mode of regulation conserves nutrients and ensures that they remain available in circulation

4. Symbiotic relationships, can contribute to resource conservation and nutrient cycling.

Some vascular plants form mutualistic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which ensure that they have a consistent supply of essential nutrients [20].

In similar fashion, commensal relationships feature the benefit of one specie from another without causing any apparent harm. Such dynamics ensure that resources are conservatively used, and indirectly support nutrient cycling

5. Plant roots interact with different microorganisms in soil, one of the outcomes of this being mycorrhizal mutualistic associations.

Mycorrhizal fungi help plants to absorb nutrients like phosphorus, from the soil, thereby facilitating conservation and through improved efficiency of nutrient uptake

6. Biotic factors such as vegetation, can act as nutrient sinks that nutrients and prevent them from leaching away and being lost in water runoff or other events/mechanisms.

This type of nutrient retention helps conserve nutrients and maintain soil fertility

7. The composition and diversity of plant communities are influenced by biotic factors.

This in turn affects nutrient cycling and resource availability, because different species of plant have different nutrient capacities and requirements

8. Biomass production by living organisms like algae and plants, contributes to the accumulation of organic matter.

As organisms reproduce and grow, they increase the total biomass in the ecosystem, which supports consumers in higher trophic levels and facilitates nutrient cycling


Role(s) of Abiotic Factors in Resource Conservation and Nutrient Cycling

Abiotic factors directly and indirectly affect the availability, retention, and cycling of nutrients and other essential resources.

Some major roles of abiotic factors in resource conservation and nutrient cycling are highlighted below;


1. Abiotic factors like temperature, moisture content and soil pH, influence the availability of nutrients to microbes and plants.

For instance, soil pH affects the solubility of essential nutrients like iron, calcium and phosphorus [12], thereby influencing their uptake by plants.

Adequate availability of nutrients is important for contributing to nutrient-cycling, and supports plant growth

2. Water is another abiotic factor that influences the mobility and transport of nutrients in ecosystems.

The availability of water affects nutrient runoff, leaching, as well as absorption by plants.

Adequate supply of water ensures that nutrient cycling is efficient, and supports the survival and growth of organisms

3. Climatic (abiotic) factors like precipitation, humidity and temperature, influence the rate of nutrient cycling.

Temperature directly affects the metabolism of decomposers and the mineralization of nutrients. On the other hand, precipitation can lead to nutrient loss through the process of leaching.

4. The physical structure of ecosystems, including topographic conditions and the spatial configuration of habitats, can have effects on nutrient dynamics.

Different habitats in an ecosystem, may provide varying microclimates and nutrient resources

5. Abiotic factors like gravity, water flow and wind, can serve as agents of erosion and sedimentation, and may affect nutrient cycling and retention.

Sediments can serve as natural reservoirs for nutrients, while erosion can facilitate the transport of nutrients to other parts of the ecosystem, such that nutrient availability is altered

6. Rock weathering and mineralogical composition are both abiotic factors that tend to influence nutrient availability and cycling on a regional basis.

This is obvious in the process of mineral-dissolution, whereby essential nutrients are released into the soil to be taken up by plants

Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Rock Weathering and Mineral Dissolution can Contribute to Nutrient Cycling (Credit: James St. John 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)
Biotic Vs Abiotic Factors: Rock Weathering and Mineral Dissolution can Contribute to Nutrient Cycling (Credit: James St. John 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)


7. Light is an important abiotic factor which affects primary productivity in aquatic ecosystems.

It is required by photosynthetic organisms for photosynthesis, which contributes to nutrient cycling by producing oxygen and organic matter

8. Nutrient limitation can also be caused by abiotic factors in some areas of an ecosystem.

An example is the limitation of phosphorus availability in highly weathered soils [18], which may affect plant growth and nutrient cycling in the affected area(s)

9. Lastly, abiotic factors like soil structure and texture can influence the retention of nutrients, reducing or enhancing nutrient loss through leaching.

Efficient retention of nutrients promotes recycling in the ecosystem







Biotic vs abiotic factors can be compared based on;

1. Definition

2. Examples

3. General Importance

4. Overview of Functions

5. Effects on Trophic Relations

6. Effects on Environmental Conditions

7. Effects on Species Diversity

8. Role(s) in Organic Adaptation

9. Role(s) in Resource Conservation and Nutrient Cycling






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