What Is the Difference Between "biotic" and "abiotic"?


Quick Answer

When scientists use the term "biotic," they are referring to living organisms or factors caused by living organisms, while they use the term "abiotic" to refer to non-living factors or objects. The two terms are antonyms.

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Full Answer

The terms "biotic" and "abiotic" are often used to discuss the needs of plants. For example, trees are affected by both biotic and abiotic factors in their environment. Trees must have the right type of fungus on their roots and must deal with several other biotic factors, such as parasites and diseases. Trees also require clean water, clean air and the proper type of soil in order to thrive; these are all abiotic factors.

Scientists also use the terms "biotic" and "abiotic" to describe the factors that affect entire ecosystems. For example, a coral reef is impacted by both the fish that are living near it and the minerals that are dissolved in the water. The fish are biotic factors, while the minerals are abiotic factors. Humans are also affected by biotic and abiotic factors. For example, temperature is an abiotic factor affecting humans, while diseases are biotic factors.

The term "bio" means life. The prefix "a" in "abiotic" is intended to mean "without."

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