Login

Abiotic Factors of an Ecosystem: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Abiotic Factors of an Ecosystem Flashcards

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Biotic and Abiotic Factors
  • 0:50 Examples of Abiotic Factors
  • 2:25 Importance of Abiotic Factors
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

When it comes to ecosystems, a mountain, a river, and a cloud have more in common than you might think. Abiotic factors have specific and important roles in nature because they help shape and define ecosystems.

Biotic and Abiotic Factors

An ecosystem is defined as any community of living and non-living things that work together. Ecosystems do not have clear boundaries, and it may be difficult to see where one ecosystem ends and another begins. In order to understand what makes each ecosystem unique, we need to look at the biotic and abiotic factors within them. Biotic factors are all of the living organisms within an ecosystem. These may be plants, animals, fungi, and any other living things. Abiotic factors are all of the non-living things in an ecosystem.

Both biotic and abiotic factors are related to each other in an ecosystem, and if one factor is changed or removed, it can affect the entire ecosystem. Abiotic factors are especially important because they directly affect how organisms survive.

Examples of Abiotic Factors

Abiotic factors come in all types and can vary among different ecosystems. For example, abiotic factors found in aquatic systems may be things like water depth, pH, sunlight, turbidity (amount of water cloudiness), salinity (salt concentration), available nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, etc.), and dissolved oxygen (amount of oxygen dissolved in the water). Abiotic variables found in terrestrial ecosystems can include things like rain, wind, temperature, altitude, soil, pollution, nutrients, pH, types of soil, and sunlight.

The boundaries of an individual abiotic factor can be just as unclear as the boundaries of an ecosystem. Climate is an abiotic factor - think about how many individual abiotic factors make up something as large as a climate. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires, are also abiotic factors. These types of abiotic factors certainly have drastic effects on the ecosystems they encounter.

A special type of abiotic factor is called a limiting factor. Limiting factors keep populations within an ecosystem at a certain level. They may also limit the types of organisms that inhabit that ecosystem. Food, shelter, water, and sunlight are just a few examples of limiting abiotic factors that limit the size of populations. In a desert environment, these resources are even scarcer, and only organisms that can tolerate such tough conditions survive there. In this way, the limiting factors are also limiting which organisms inhabit this ecosystem.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support