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.
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
While all ecosystems have some abiotic factors in common, there are different examples of abiotic factors for different natural ecosystems.
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)
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
The unique plant and animal life found in grasslands relies on:
- High winds
- Near neutral pH soil
- Soil texture
The kinds of plants and animals that can thrive in mountain ecosystems need to interact with elements like:
- High elevation
- Strong winds
- Low oxygen levels
Marine ecosystems, like the oceans, rely on these abiotic factors:
- Higher salinity (concentration of salt in the water)
- Ocean currents
- Water depth
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.