Main Difference – Biotic vs Abiotic
Biotic and abiotic are the two components of an ecosystem. An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things which work together. The biotic and abiotic elements in an ecosystem make the ecosystem unique. The removal of one biotic or abiotic element may affect the entire system. In an ecosystem, biotic elements depend on the abiotic elements for the survival. Hence, abiotic elements determine how organisms survive in an ecosystem. The main difference between biotic and abiotic is that biotic refers to all living things of an ecosystem while abiotic refers to all the non-living, physical and chemical things of an ecosystem.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Biotic
– Definition, Components, Resources, Factors
2. What is Abiotic
– Definition, Components, Resources, Factors
3. What are the similarities between Biotic and Abiotic
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the difference between Biotic and Abiotic
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Abiotic, Abiotic Components, Abiotic Factors, Abiotic Resources, Biotic, Biotic Components, Biotic Factors, Biotic Resources, Consumers, Decomposers, Ecosystem, Food Web, Limiting Factors, Living Resources, Producers, Primary Consumers, Secondary Consumers
What is Biotic
Biotic elements or factors refers to all living things in an ecosystem. They can be found all over the earth. Biotic elements in an ecosystem can be divided into three: biotic components, biotic resources, and biotic factors.
Biotic components are all living things in an ecosystem. Animals, plants, and microorganisms in an ecosystem are the biotic components found in an ecosystem. Wastes from living things and dead organisms are also considered as biotic components. Biotic components can be divided into two depending on their metabolisms: producers and consumers. All the autotrophs like plants in an ecosystem are considered as producers. They produce simple organic molecules like glucose with the aid of sunlight by using inorganic carbon dioxide and water. Consumers are heterotrophs, which utilize the organic compounds produced by autotrophs. Primary consumers or herbivores directly consume producers as food. Secondary consumers or carnivores are the animals like dog and cat, which consume herbivores. Secondary carnivores like lions consume primary consumers. The decomposers are microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, which consume dead organisms. A food web, illustrating the connections between biotic components in an ecosystem is shown in figure 1.
Biotic resources are also called as living resources. They are renewable resources. They can be obtained from the biosphere. Biotic resources include forests and their products, animals, birds, and marine resources like fish. Food like tea, coffee, and medicine can also be obtained from plants. Timber, wood pulp, gums, wool, alcohol, and dry fruits are biotic resources which can be obtained from plants. The decaying organic matter like mineral fuel is also a type of biotic resource.
Biotic factors are the other living parts of an ecosystem with which the organisms interact for their survival. The interactions of organisms in an ecosystem with biotic factors depend on the level of that organism in the food chain. Predators, prey, parasites, competitors, and symbionts are biotic factors.
What is Abiotic
Non-biological factors like sunlight, material like sulfur dioxide, and processes like hydrolysis, which affect living and non-living constituents of an ecosystem are referred to as abiotic. Abiotic elements in an ecosystem can also be described under three categories. They are abiotic components, abiotic resources, and abiotic factors.
The non-living features of an ecosystem on which the living organisms depend can be identified as abiotic components. Four major abiotic components of an ecosystem are climate, parent material and soil, topography and natural disturbances. The climate includes temperature, rainfall, and wind patterns. Organisms depend on the geological material, which lies on the floor of an ecosystem along with the soil. Topography is the variety of shapes like slopes, elevation, and aspects of the landscape, affecting the living organisms. Annual flooding, unexpected fires, and high snowfall are some natural disturbances which affect the living organisms. An unexpected fire in a forest is shown in figure 3.
Abiotic resources are naturally occurring, non-living resources, which are considered as a component of natural resources. They cannot be easily replenished. Land, water, coal, and oil are abiotic resources. Land and water are the most lucrative abiotic resources for living organisms. Coal is one of the major resources of heat and electrical energy.
Water depth, sunlight, pH, turbidity, salinity, available nutrients, and dissolved oxygen are considered as abiotic factors. Abiotic factors can vary depending on the abiotic components and abiotic resources. A special type of abiotic factor can be involved in keeping a population only within that particular ecosystem. This type of abiotic factors are referred to as limiting factors.
Similarities Between Biotic and Abiotic
- Both biotic and abiotic are two parts of an ecosystem.
- Both abiotic and abiotic things in an ecosystem can be subcategorized into components, resources, and factors.
Difference Between Biotic and Abiotic
Biotic: Biotic refers to the living elements in an ecosystem.
Abiotic: Abiotic refers to the non-living, physical elements in an ecosystem.
Biotic: Biotic elements depend on the abiotic elements for the survival within an ecosystem.
Abiotic: Abiotic elements do not depend on biotic elements within an ecosystem.
Biotic: The measurement of biotic elements are subjective.
Abiotic: The measurement of abiotic elements are objective.
Biotic: Biotic elements affect the individual of a species, community, population, biosphere, and the biome.
Abiotic: Abiotic elements affect the individual of a species, community, population, and biosphere.
Biotic: Living things directly or indirectly affect the other living things in the ecosystem.
Abiotic: Abiotic elements determine the number of organisms, which are capable of existing in the environment.
Adaptation towards Changes
Biotic: Biotic things have the ability to adapt changes in the environment.
Abiotic: Abiotic things are unable to adapt to changes in the environment.
Biotic: Plants, animals, and microorganisms which serve as producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem respectively are the biotic components.
Abiotic: Climate, parent material and soil, topography and natural disturbances are the abiotic components of an ecosystem.
Biotic: Biotic resources include forests and their products, animals, birds, and marine resources like fish.
Abiotic: Land, water, coal, and oil are abiotic resources.
Biotic: Organisms which interact with other organisms in an ecosystem like predators, prey, parasites, competitors, and symbionts are considered as biotic factors.
Abiotic: Water depth, sunlight, pH, turbidity, salinity, available nutrients, and dissolved oxygen are considered as abiotic factors.
Biotic and abiotic are the two elements which build an ecosystem. Biotic comprises all the living things in an ecosystem, while all the non-living things in an ecosystem are considered as abiotic. This is the main difference between biotic and abiotic. Biotic elements directly depend on abiotic elements in an ecosystem. Both biotic and abiotic elements can be subcategorized into components, resources, and factors.
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1. “FoodWeb” By Thompsma – Own work (CC0) via
2. “Slow – Coastal Temperate Rainforest” by Sam Beebe via
3. “51951” (CC0) via Pexels