Examples of Abiotic Factors in Different Ecosystems

, Staff Editor
Updated February 24, 2020
sand and rock in desert biome
    sand and rock in desert biome
    Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost / Moment / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Wondering what “abiotic factor” means? An abiotic factor is “anything chemical or physical that lacks life.” Abiotic factors in an ecosystem are all the nonliving things that keep the ecosystem healthy and help living things survive. Take a look at some abiotic factor examples from different ecosystems to help you better understand the term.

Types of Abiotic Factors

There are five main abiotic factors that are important to all ecosystems. The amount and type of each abiotic factor determines what life can survive in that ecosystem.

  • Water - The makeup of the water, how it moves, and how available it is
  • Sunlight - The amount and intensity of regular sunlight exposure
  • Oxygen - The concentration and availability of it
  • Soil - The makeup, texture, and availability of it
  • Temperature - The actual temperature of the environment and the ways it routinely changes

List of Abiotic Factors in Different Ecosystems

While all ecosystems have some abiotic factors in common, there are different examples of abiotic factors for different natural ecosystems.

Examples of Abiotic Factors in a Rainforest

The different levels of a rainforest depend on different abiotic factors, but they all count on:

  • High rainfall
  • Mild seasonal changes
  • Warm temperatures
  • Latitude (near the equator)
  • Sunlight

Examples of Abiotic Factors in a Desert

A desert biome relies on the interaction of many abiotic factors to sustain life, such as:

  • Low rainfall
  • Extreme temperature changes
  • Usually sandy soil (but not always)
  • Clear skies
  • Low moisture

Examples of Abiotic Factors in Grasslands

The unique plant and animal life found in grasslands relies on:

  • High winds
  • Near neutral pH soil
  • Cliffs
  • Storms
  • Soil texture

Examples of Abiotic Factors in the Mountains

The kinds of plants and animals that can thrive in mountain ecosystems need to interact with elements like:

  • High elevation
  • Snow
  • Boulders
  • Strong winds
  • Low oxygen levels

Examples of Abiotic Factors in the Ocean

Marine ecosystems, like the oceans, rely on these abiotic factors:

  • Higher salinity (concentration of salt in the water)
  • Ocean currents
  • Water depth
  • Pollution
  • Rocks

How the Lifeless Support Life

Abiotic factors are not living, but they do play an important role in supporting life, or biotic factors all around the world. Take a look at the ecosystem you live in and discover how lifeless, or abiotic, factors keep you, a biotic factor, alive and healthy.