Biotic factors refer to the living components of an ecosystem, such as plants and animals. Abiotic factors refer to the non-living components of an ecosystem, such as temperature, light, and soil.

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The environment and the organisms that inhabit it are shaped by a combination of biotic and abiotic factors. Predators are an example of a biotic element that can alter populations, whereas abiotic factors like temperature can influence plant and animal development and survival.

Comapre biotic vs abiotic factors in an ecosystem

Biotic Factors Abiotic Factors
Living organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms) Temperature
Population density and distribution Light
Competition and predation Soil
Symbiotic relationships Water
Decomposition Air/Atmosphere
Evolution pH

Importance of biotic factors

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A healthy ecosystem relies heavily on the contributions of its biotic components to keep the various parts functioning in harmony.

Food webs and nutrient cycling:

Biotic factors form the foundation of food webs and help to recycle nutrients throughout the ecosystem.

Population control:

Biotic factors such as predation, competition, and disease help to regulate the population sizes of different species, preventing any one species from becoming too dominant.


Biotic factors contribute to the diversity of an ecosystem. The diversity of an ecosystem grows as a result of the many species there and their various interactions.

Ecosystem services:

Many biotic factors, such as pollinators, decomposers, and predators, provide important ecosystem services that benefit humans, such as crop pollination, waste breakdown and pest control.

Climate regulation:

Through photosynthesis and respiration, biotic variables also play a part in stabilizing Earth’s temperature.


Biotic factors drive evolution by natural selection, shaping the characteristics of different species over time.

Importance of abiotic factors

When considering the influence of environmental influences on organisms, abiotic factors should not be discounted.

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Climate regulation:

Abiotic factors such as temperature, light, and precipitation play a critical role in determining the climate of an area, which in turn affects the distribution of different plant and animal species.

Nutrient availability:

Abiotic factors such as soil and water chemistry affect the availability of essential nutrients for plants and animals.


Abiotic factors such as topography, soil type, and light availability determine the types of habitats that can support different plant and animal species.


Abiotic factors play a role in shaping the characteristics of different species through adaptation. Some species, for instance, may have evolved thicker fur or other forms of insulation to help them endure in colder climates.

Ecosystem services:

Abiotic factors also provide important ecosystem services that benefit humans, such as water purification, nutrient cycling, and soil formation.

Climate change:

Abiotic factors like CO2, temperature, and light intensity are also affected by human activities like deforestation, burning fossil fuels and agricultural practices, which contribute to climate change and have a global impact on ecosystems.

What is Liebig’s Law of the Minimum?

Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, also known as Liebig’s Law or the Law of the Minimum, is an agricultural principle first proposed by German chemist Justus von Liebig in the 1840s. According to the theory, growth is determined not by the overall amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource, or the “limiting factor.”

In other words, the growth or productivity of a crop or population is limited by the availability of the essential resource that is in shortest supply, rather than by the amount of all resources combined. This means that even if all other resources are plentiful, a scarce resource will limit the growth and productivity of a crop or population.

For instance, if a field has sufficient water and light, but insufficient nutrients in the soil, the crop’s growth will be limited by the availability of those nutrients. Similarly, if an animal population has sufficient food but insufficient habitat, the number will be restricted by the availability of habitat.

Lesson plan for teaching biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem for grade 11

Lesson Plan:

Understanding Biotic and Abiotic Factors in an Ecosystem

Grade level: 11

Objective: Students will be able to explain the differences between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem and their importance.


  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Handouts (optional)
  • Video resources (optional)

Introduction (10 minutes):

  • Begin the lesson by reviewing the basic definition of an ecosystem and its components.
  • Introduce the concept of biotic and abiotic factors and their roles in shaping the environment.
  • Show a video or images of different ecosystems (e.g. a forest, a desert, a coral reef) and ask students to identify and list biotic and abiotic factors they observe.

Direct Instruction (20 minutes):

  • Divide the class into small groups and give each group a chart paper and markers.
  • Provide each group with a list of biotic and abiotic factors (e.g. temperature, water, sunlight, plants, animals) and ask them to sort the factors into biotic and abiotic categories.
  • Once the groups have finished sorting the factors, ask them to present their chart and explain their reasoning for sorting each factor into the biotic or abiotic category.
  • After all groups have presented, lead a class discussion to review and clarify any misconceptions.

Guided Practice (30 minutes):

  • Give students a handout or direct them to a website with a case study of a specific ecosystem (e.g. a wetland, a tropical rainforest).
  • Ask students to read the case study and identify the biotic and abiotic factors in the ecosystem, and their impact on the ecosystem.
  • Lead a class discussion to review and summarize the biotic and abiotic factors and their effects on the ecosystem.

Independent Practice (20 minutes):

  • Assign students to research and present on a specific biotic or abiotic factor in an ecosystem of their choice.
  • Provide students with a rubric for their presentation and have them prepare and present their research to the class.

Conclusion (10 minutes):

  • Review the main points of the lesson, emphasizing the importance of understanding biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem and how they interact to shape the environment.
  • Assign homework or additional resources for students to continue learning about biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem.
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