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Biotic Factors of a Terrestrial Ecosystem

Updated April 17, 2017

Of the biological sciences, ecology is one of the most pertinent to humans since it concerns the environment in which we live. Like most disciplines, ecology has a unique set of terms that can make simple concepts sound more complex. Simply put, biotic factors in the terrestrial ecosystem are the living things on earth's land masses. At first, the terms may seem challenging, but if we move past the science jargon, it will be easy to identify biotic factors in our own terrestrial environment.

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What Is an Ecosystem?

Every living creature on earth is part of an ecosystem. Ecosystems are biological environments that consist of all of the organisms that live in a specific area, as well as the physical environment with which the organisms interact. This nonliving physical environment can include factors such as soil, air, water, and sun. Organisms are living things, including plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. Any place where living things, called biotic factors, interact with nonliving things and processes, called abiotic factors, can be considered an ecosystem.

What Is a Terrestrial Ecosystem?

A terrestrial ecosystem occurs on land. Some examples of terrestrial ecosystems include forests, grasslands and even our own backyards. Non-terrestrial ecosystems occur in places other than land. Some examples of non-terrestrial ecosystems are ecosystems that exist in bodies of water like oceans, lakes or rivers. Ecosystems that may exist beyond the earth would be classified as extraterrestrial ecosystems.

What Are Biotic Factors?

Biotic factors include anything in an ecosystem that is alive. Plants, including grasses, trees and shrubs are considered biotic factors. Large and small animals, insects and humans are all biotic factors within an ecosystem. Even the germs that make us sick and the microbes that break down decaying material in the soil are considered biotic.

The Desert: Biotic Factors in a Terrestrial Ecosystem

The desert provides a great example of a terrestrial ecosystem. In a desert ecosystem, there are a number of biotic factors. They include the shrubs, cacti and other plants that thrive in the desert. Small animals and reptiles like mice, snakes and lizards are also included. Additionally, predators like coyotes are considered to be biotic factors within the terrestrial desert ecosystem. Some of the abiotic factors in a desert ecosystem include the sun, rain or groundwater, wind, sand and rocks.

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About the Author

Daisy Buchanan has worked as a staff writer for "The Umbrella," an arts newspaper in Portland, Ore., and as editor-in-chief for "Living Mosaic," an academic journal. Buchanan holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Lewis and Clark College.

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