Organisms in an aquatic ecosystem are affected by both biotic and abiotic factors. Biotic factors include other living organisms, such as fish, plants and bacteria. Abiotic factors refer to nonliving phenomena like temperature and the amount of sunlight. The five biotic factors in an aquatic ecosystem are competition, predation, symbiosis, decomposition and disease.
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The amount of food and shelter may be limited in an ecosystem. As a result, organisms will compete with one another to gain access to important resources. Competition may occur between the members of the same species or between organisms of different species that rely on the same resource.
Predation occurs when one organism feeds upon another. Some predators are omnivorous, feeding on both plants and animals; others are purely carnivorous, surviving solely by eating other animals. Predation always results in the death of the organism that is being fed upon. Predators themselves may fall prey to other larger or stronger predators, but rarely so unless weakened by injury or disease.
Symbiosis describes a long-term relationship between organisms which may be mutualistic, commensalistic or parasitic in nature. Mutualism describes a relationship wherein both organisms benefit from their interaction. Commensalism is a relationship were one organism benefits from the relationship while the other neither benefits nor is harmed. Parasitism occurs when one benefits while the other is harmed. In some cases, parasitism may eventually lead to the death of the organism being harmed.
The process of decomposition insures that nothing goes to waste in any ecosystem. Decomposers such as bacteria feed on dead plants and animals and release nutrients back into the environment to be absorbed by plants and other organisms.
Disease is a harmful and abnormal condition that can afflict all organisms in an aquatic ecosystem. They can be bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic in nature. Disease can also arise from adverse conditions like lower oxygen levels in the water.
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