What is Biotic? - Definition, Factors & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Defines a Biotic…
  • 1:04 What are Biotic Factors?
  • 1:55 Carrying Capacity
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Cara Rogers
Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson you will learn about the biotic components in an ecosystem and the biotic factors that affect organisms. You will also have a better understanding about why planet Earth is a pretty special place.

What Defines a Biotic Component?

What is the one thing scientists keep looking for on Mars that hasn't been found? A bunch of red rocks? Craters? Little green aliens? Believe it or not, the closest answer actually is little green aliens. Scientists have yet to find any life on Mars (bacteria, little green aliens, or otherwise). As far as we know, the one thing that Earth has that no other planet has is life, otherwise known as biotic components.

Biotic components are all the living things in an ecosystem. They are the animals, the plants and the microorganisms. Biotic components also include the waste from living things and dead organisms. Even the harshest corners of our planet have biotic components. Earth is teaming with biotic beings.

The surface of Mars has no biotic components as far as we know.
The surface of Mars.

However, ecosystems also contain abiotic components which are the non-living parts of an ecosystem. These can include everything from rocks to temperature, sunlight, clouds, and chemicals in the soil.

What Are Biotic Factors?

Biotic factors, as well as abiotic factors, have more to do with how those parts of an ecosystem affect one another than the specific living or non-living thing itself. Biotic factors in an ecosystem are the living things that affect other living things in that ecosystem.

Competition, consumption, predation, parasitism, disease, even symbiosis are all ways a biotic factor could have an effect on the other creatures they encounter. For instance, a consumer, such as a deer, eats grass. The deer is a biotic factor that affects the amount of grass in the ecosystem. The deer can also be affected by abiotic factors. For instance, a harsh winter can freeze the water the deer might usually be able to drink.

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Additional Activities

Biotic Factors in Your Life

Now that you have learned about biotic factors, it's time to put your new knowledge to use. In this activity you'll be locating biotic and abiotic factors in your everyday environment and assessing their importance.


1. To start, go outside and locate five different biotic factors. For each factor, include what it is, a description, and how it might affect the carrying capacity of the ecosystem based on the lesson. You might create a table for yourself like this:

Biotic FactorDescriptionHow Does It Affect Carrying Capacity?

2. Now, find five abiotic factors that are also important to the environment. For each abiotic factor you find, write a short description, including how it might also affect carrying capacity. You can use a similar table to question 1 like this:

Abiotic FactorDescriptionHow Does It Affect Carrying Capacity?

3. Next, answer the discussion questions about the biotic and abiotic factors you found:

a. How did you know which factors were biotic?

b. How did you know which factors were abiotic?

c. How do biotic and abiotic factors influence your environment?

d. Do these factors affect your everyday life? Why or why not?

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