What Are the Nonliving Parts of an Ecosystem Called?

Heinrich van den Berg/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Nonliving parts of an ecosystem are called abiotic components or abiotic factors. These include parts of the ecosystem that are non-living but still affect it. Examples include water, soil, air, temperature and sunlight.

Abiotic factors are just as important to ecosystems as living components. Abiotic factors affect the types of life that are able to survive in a particular ecosystem. For example, the temperature in the desert compared to the temperature in the arctic affects the type of life found in those ecosystems.

Organisms have the potential to change the abiotic composition of their ecosystem. For example, yeast produces alcohol as an abiotic byproduct of respiration, making the environment toxic to certain organisms.