Abiotic factor refers to any non-living element, condition or phenomena that directly or indirectly influences the ecosystem. This article discusses the meaning of abiotic factor, its examples, effects and importance, as outlined below;
Meaning of Abiotic Factor: 4 Ways to Define the Concept of Abiotic Factors in Ecosystems
Abiotic factor is also called physical, non-living, inorganic, or physicochemical factor. It includes all relevant parts of an ecosystem that are not biomass, and cannot undergo biodegradation. These factors are inorganic in their basic nature and attributes.
The role of abiotic factors in ecosystems is mostly physical and/or chemical (hence the alternative term; 'physicochemical'). In order to gain a better understanding of what abiotic factors refer to, it is helpful to identify a handful of them.
Below is an alternative meaning of abiotic factor that mentions some of its examples;
Abiotic factor is any relevant, non-living element or attribute of an ecosystem that determines its environmental conditions, with examples such as pH, acidity, temperature, humidity, solar radiation and salinity .
By determining environmental conditions, abiotic factors may also affect the organisms and biological processes, or biotic components of the ecosystem. The meaning of abiotic factor is given blow in such a manner that highlights this perspective;
Abiotic factor is an inorganic component of an ecosystem that affects the survival, adaptation, biodiversity and geographic distribution of organisms; by directly controlling environmental conditions in the ecosystem.
The effect(s) of abiotic factors highlighted above, indicate that these factors are of significant importance to the entire ecosystem. Below is an alternative meaning of abiotic factor, that mentions its importance;
Abiotic factor refers to any of several non-living ecological components, that is important for shaping the physical and chemical characteristics of the ecosystem; which in turn influence the biological attributes.
Examples of Abiotic Factors
Examples of abiotic factors are;
5). Solar thermal energy
7). Soil aggregates
8). Soil minerals
13). Dissolved oxygen
Effect of Abiotic Factors: How Abiotic Factors Affect Organisms in the Ecosystem
Abiotic factors affect organisms in the ecosystem by controlling environmental conditions and physicochemical processes, which have direct impact on the abundance, survival, dispersal/distribution and efficacy of organisms .
The effect of abiotic factors on organisms may be positive (enhancing) or limiting, and indicates the close relationship between abiotic and biotic ecological elements.
Abiotic factors affect the distribution of organisms in an ecosystem, by shaping and modifying the climate, nutrient availability, and habitats of these organisms, so that they either adapt, shrink in population size, or become displaced. Such dynamics ultimately determine both the distribution and regional abundance of organisms .
Four (4) abiotic factors that can limit organisms in an ecosystem are; food availability, temperature, habitat, and elevation or altitude. In ecosystems where these factors are not optimized for a broad range of organic species, there is a likelihood of low biodiversity.
Abiotic factors like pH, humidity, temperature and salinity have direct influence on biological processes like reproduction and biodegradation, and can affect how bioenergy is cycled in the ecological pyramid.
Importance of Abiotic Factors
Abiotic factors are important in an ecosystem because they are needed for the survival of living organisms, and define the core characteristic of the ecosystem.
The importance of abiotic factors for species distribution is based on the dependence of these species on certain physicochemical elements conditions for their shelter, nutrition and general metabolism. With time, species in an ecosystem become spatially dispersed such that they concentrate in areas where these needed resources are available .
Below is an outline of the importance of abiotic factors in ecosystems;
1). Nutrient supply
2). Climate regulation
3). Habitat creation and modification
4). Determination of organic survival
5). Role in reproduction, biodiversity and species abundance
Abiotic factor is an element or component of an ecosystem that is inorganic and relevant toward physical and chemical processes in the system.
Examples of abiotic factors are; temperature, humidity, pH, light, solar thermal energy, salinity, soil aggregates, soil minerals, nutrients, precipitation, air, wind, dissolved oxygen, elevation and acidity.
The importance of abiotic factors includes; nutrient supply, climate regulation, habitat creation and modification, determination of organic survival, and role in reproduction, biodiversity and species abundance.
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