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Difference between Abiotic and Biotic

An ecosystem comprises Abiotic and Biotic components. Abiotic components are the non-living components of an ecosystem such as air, water, sunlight, wind, water, soil, temperature etc. Biotic components are living things found in an ecosystem like plants, animals, algae, bacteria, fungi etc. Let us understand what is an ecosystem so that we can easily understand the difference between Abiotic and biotic!

What is an Ecosystem?

An ecosystem refers to a geographic area where living things like plants, animals and other organisms interact with each other and with the non-living things of their physical environment like soil, water and sunlight to form a bubble of life. So, it is basically a community of living and non-living things that work together and it can be as large as a desert or a lake or as small as a tree or a pond.

In an ecosystem, the biotic and abiotic factors influence each other. Abiotic factors determine what type of biotic factors will be found in an ecosystem. For example, cactus and camels is usually found in the deserts where the climate is hot and rainfall is less; apples are grown in cold regions where the temperature remains low and snowfall occurs often.

Biotic factors also influence Abiotic factors, for example, the microorganism and plants life in a pond influences different factors related to water like sunlight levels, acidity levels, cloudiness etc. Now, let us see how Abiotic factors differ from biotic factors!

Abiotic factors:

Abiotic factors refer to the non-living components of an ecosystem such as air, water, soil, sunlight. These components are usually obtained from the lithosphere (land), atmosphere (air) and hydrosphere (water). Abiotic factors can be classified into three basic categories: climatic, edaphic and social.

  • Climatic factors: These factors are related to climate such as sunlight, humidity, wind, temperature etc.
  • Edaphic factors: These factors are related to soil and geography of the land. E.g. Soil characteristic (colour, texture, structure, density) and topography of land such as mountains, elevations, valleys etc.
  • Social factors: These factors refer to how the land and water resources are used by the people of an area. For example, mining, farming, construction of dams, clear-cutting of forests for agriculture etc.

Biotic factors:

Biotic factors refer to the living components of an ecosystem like plants, birds, animals, microbes, fungi and other organisms. These components are obtained from the biosphere. The biotic factors can be categorized into three types: Autotrophs, Heterotrophs, and Detritivores.

Autotrophs: The term Auxotroph means "self-feeder". So, autotrophs refer to those organisms which can produce their own food using light, water, carbon dioxide and other chemicals. They are producers in a food chain, e.g. plants on land and algae in the water.

Heterotrophs: They are those organisms which cannot manufacture their own food like autotrophs (plants). Unlike plants and algae, these organisms cannot produce organic compounds from inorganic sources. More than 95% of all living organisms are heterotrophs like humans, animals, fungi, bacteria as all depend on autotrophs and other heterotrophs for food and energy.

Detritivores: These organisms are also known as decomposers. They either directly feed on dead or decomposing plants and organisms, or break down the dead organic matter for food or energy.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between abiotic and biotic are as follows:

Abiotic Biotic
It refers to the non-living components of an ecosystem, e.g. air, soil, water, sunlight. It refers to living components of an ecosystem, e.g. plants, animals, birds and other organisms.
Abiotic components do not depend on the biotic components for their survival. Biotic components depend on Abiotic components for their survival.
Unable to adapt to changes in the environment They are able to adapt to changes in the environment.
Categorized into three basic categories: climatic, edaphic and social. Classified into producers (plants), consumers (animals) and decomposers (microorganisms)
It determines what type of biotic factors can be found in an ecosystem. It helps determine the type of abiotic factors.
Measurement of abiotic factors is objective. Measurement of biotic factors is subjective.
Abiotic factors affect the individual of a species, community, population, and biosphere. Biotic factors affect the individuals of a species, population, community, biosphere and the biome.
Abiotic resources include water, land, oil, coal etc. Biotic resources include birds, animals, forests, and marine resources like fish.
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