An ecosystem is a system made up of various groups of organisms and the physical environment in which they relate to each other and to the environment. In an ecosystem we find.
- Biotic factors: They are organisms, that is, living beings. They range from bacteria to the largest animals and plants. They can be heterotrophs (they take their food from other living things) or autotrophs (they generate their food from inorganic substances). They are related to each other by relationships of predation, competition, parasitism, commensalism, cooperation, or mutualism.
- Abiotic factors: They are all those that constitute the physical-chemical characteristics of an ecosystem. These factors are in constant relation to biotic factors since they allow their survival and growth. For example water, air, light.
Abiotic factors may be beneficial for some species and not for others. For example, an acidic pH (abiotic factor) is not favorable for the survival and reproduction of bacteria (biotic factor) but it is favorable for fungi (biotic factor).
Biotic factors establish the conditions in which organisms can live in a certain ecosystem. For this reason, some organisms develop adaptations to these conditions, that is, evolutionarily, living beings can be modified by biotic factors.
On the other hand, biotic factors also modify abiotic factors. For example, the presence of certain organisms (biotic factors) in the soil can change the acidity (abiotic factor) of the soil.
See also: Difference between biotic and abiotic factors
Examples of abiotic factors
- Water: The availability of water is one of the main factors that affect the presence of organisms in an ecosystem since it is essential for the survival of all life forms. In places where there is no constant availability of water, organisms have developed adaptations that allow them to spend more time without contact with water. In addition, the presence of water affects the temperature and humidity of the air.
- Infrared light: It is a type of light invisible to the human eye.
- Ultraviolet radiation: It is electromagnetic radiation. It is not visible. The earth’s surface is protected from most of these rays by the atmosphere. However, UV-A rays (wavelength between 380 to 315 nm) reach the surface. These rays do little damage to the tissues of various organisms. By contrast, UV-B rays cause sunburn and skin cancer.
- Atmosphere: From what has been said about ultraviolet radiation, it can be understood that the atmosphere and its characteristics affect the development of organisms.
- Temperature: Heat is used by plants during photosynthesis. In addition, for all organisms, there is a maximum and minimum environmental temperature at which they can survive. This is why global temperature changes result in the extinction of various species. The microorganisms called extremophiles can tolerate extreme temperatures.
- Air: Air content affects the development and health of organisms. For example, if there is carbon monoxide in the air, it is harmful to all organisms, including humans. Wind also affects plant growth, for example, trees that live in areas that have frequent winds in the same direction grow crooked.
- Visible light: It is essential for the life of plants since it intervenes in the photosynthesis process. Animals are allowed to look around for various activities such as foraging or protecting themselves.
- Calcium: It is an element that is found in the earth’s crust but also in seawater. It is an important element for biotic factors: it allows the normal development of leaves, roots, and fruits in plants, and in animals, it is essential for bone strength, among other functions.
- Copper: It is one of the few metals that can be found in nature in its pure state. It is absorbed in the form of a cation. In plants, it participates in the photosynthesis process. In animals, it is found in red blood cells, participates in the maintenance of blood vessels, nerves, the immune system, and bones.
- Nitrogen: Forms 78% of the air. Legumes absorb it directly from the air. Bacteria convert it to nitrate. Nitrate is used by various organisms to make proteins.
- Oxygen: It is the most abundant chemical element in mass in the biosphere, that is, the sea, air, and soil. It is an abiotic factor but it is released by abiotic factors: plants and algae, thanks to the photosynthesis process. Aerobic organisms are those that need oxygen to convert nutrients into energy. Human beings, for example, are aerobic organisms.
- Altitude: Geographically, the altitude of a place is measured taking into account its vertical distance from sea level. Therefore, when indicating the altitude, it is indicated, for example, 200 masl (meters above sea level). Altitude affects both temperature (decreases 0.65 degrees every 100 meters of altitude) and atmospheric pressure.
It can serve you
- Biotic and abiotic factors
- Living and non-living beings
- Autotrophs and Heterotrophs