What is the abiotic environment? (with photos)

Sunlight and water are just two parts of the abiotic environment necessary for life to exist.

The abiotic environment includes all non-living factors and processes in an ecosystem. Sunlight, soil, water and pollution, for example, are all important abiotic factors in an environment that affect life. The biotic environment, on the other hand, is made up of all living organisms in an ecosystem and includes factors such as disease, predators, prey, and human activity. Life depends on both environments for survival.

Air pollution is also part of the abiotic environment that can impact life.

Sunlight, an abiotic factor, makes life possible in almost all ecosystems. Green plants take solar energy and convert it into chemical energy through photosynthesis. As animals eat plants, energy moves through the biotic environment and is eventually spent as heat. This basic flow of energy shows how the abiotic and biotic components are closely linked. This cycle is called an open system because it depends on the sun, a source outside the Earth.

Living organisms such as tree leaves can become part of the abiotic environment when they die and their nutrients are absorbed back into the soil.

Organisms also need basic elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. These elements are abiotic when found in water or soil, but circulate through plants and organisms as nutrients through food and hydration. After an animal excretes or dies, bacteria break down these nutrients, returning them to the abiotic environment. Aside from a few meteorites from space every now and then, no new elements enter this closed system. The same components are used and reused over and over again – the elements that dinosaurs consumed to survive are the same ones that people use today.

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Soil is part of an abiotic environment.

Water is another essential part of the abiotic environment. Factors such as availability, movement, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration, pH level and chemical components affect the types of life that can survive in an ecosystem. Whether it’s an ocean, lake or river, water conditions can change suddenly or seasonally, affecting organisms that depend on water for survival.

A drought can change the level of nutrients in the soil.

For all abiotic aspects of the environment, changing conditions require organisms to adapt or else die. For example, a drought, flood, volcanic eruption or earthquake dramatically alters factors such as weather, water conditions or even available soil elements and nutrients. Small, subtle changes can also have major effects. Slight changes in water temperature can affect the ability of aquatic life to breathe and move, because the density of water changes with temperature.

It may seem that living creatures and plants are at the mercy of the abiotic environment, but in fact, life also affects the non-living world. Pollution, for example, is a by-product of biotic life that alters the quality of water, air, or soil. As evidenced by rising CO 2 levels in the atmosphere, human activities are also changing the environment.

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