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Biotic factors: what are they, characteristics, classification and examples

An ecosystem is made up of the biotic and abiotic factors typical of that particular area, as well as the interactions between them. Biotic factors refer to the set of living beings and the relationships between them. We would commonly speak of fauna and flora, although microorganisms also belong to this category. So what exactly are the biotic factors?

To clarify this and some other doubts related to biotic components, their definition and associated concepts, this AgroCorrn article explains what biotic factors are, their characteristics, classification and examples .

You may also be interested in: Difference between biotic and abiotic

What are biotic factors

The factors or biotic components are all living organisms animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms (ie all the Kingdoms of Nature ), and the interactions are between them. The set of these factors gives rise to what we know as biocenosis .

We recommend that you expand this information by reading these two other AgroCorrn articles on What is biocenosis and examples and the Difference and relationship between biotope and biocenosis with examples . This other article on the Difference between biotic and abiotic can also help you better understand this topic .

Characteristics of biotic factors

Here are some of the main characteristics of biotic factors :

  • They are those who have life.
  • They normally refer to flora and fauna, their life forms and their intraspecific and interspecific relationships .
  • They have a specific behavior and have adaptations to survive in the environment in which they live.
  • Living things compete for food, space, or other resources.
  • They have breeding strategies.
  • There are various methods by which they are able to obtain matter and energy from the physical environment. In this way, they are classified into three large groups: producers, consumers and decomposers.

Classification of biotic factors

Biotic factors or living things can be classified in two main ways: according to ecological organization and according to their position in the food or trophic chain.

On the one hand, in the classification of biotic factors according to the different levels of hierarchy or ecological organization we can find:

  • Individual: a unitary, structurally and physiologically independent organism, either unicellular or multicellular, which has the ability to survive without needing other living beings, in a given environment.
  • Population: according to Odum (1972) this concept refers to the grouping of individuals of the same species, who share space and time, so they act against the same environmental factors and are freely related to each other (feeding and reproduction)
  • Community or biocenosis: it is the set of different populations and, therefore, of different groups of species, that inhabit the same place or territory (biotope). Communities in their interaction with the physical environment or biotope in which they live and that surrounds them form the different ecosystems.

On the other hand, in the classification of biotic factors according to their position in the food chain or the different trophic levels of the ecosystem they inhabit, we can find:

  • Producers: autotrophic or producer organisms are those that, from the energy they capture and the inorganic and mineral substances provided by the physical environment, elaborate their organic components, in the processes of photosynthesis or chemosynthesis. Both processes, which have the same purpose, differ in the source of the energy that organisms need and extract to carry them out. In the first case, the energy comes from sunlight and, in the other, from chemical reactions.
  • Consumers: consumers are heterotrophic organisms, that is, they feed on processed organic matter ( primary consumers who consume producers) or from other organisms ( secondary , tertiary and quaternary consumers and consume other consumers) and transform it into their own organic material. Primary consumers or herbivores feed directly on the producing organisms. Secondary consumers feed off other consumers using different tropic strategies. Some of these are: carnivorism, parasitism, omnivory, detritivorism (scavengers, saprophagus, dung). It is considered tertiary consumers and quaternary consumers super predators.
  • Decomposers: these organisms, mostly microscopic, constitute the last of the trophic levels. They are responsible for recycling organic matter, transforming it into inorganic matter in order to return some of its compounds to the environment. In this other post you can learn more about What are decomposing living beings with examples .

Examples of terrestrial biotic factors

These are some examples of terrestrial biotic factors :


  • Chestnut
  • Wheat
  • Cactus
  • Ferns
  • Cypress
  • Pine tree
  • Willow
  • Olive
  • Acacia
  • Rosemary
  • Holm oak
  • Rockrose
  • Arbutus
  • Bramble

Primary consumers

  • Butterfly
  • Meerkats
  • Rhinoceros
  • Giraffe
  • Deer
  • Donkey
  • Rabbit
  • Rodents
  • Sheep
  • Caterpillar
  • Koala

Secondary consumers

  • Toad
  • Cougar
  • Jaguar
  • Wolf
  • Bear
  • Tiger
  • Fox
  • Cat
  • Dog

Tertiary consumers

  • Snake
  • Hawk
  • Royal Owl
  • Spotted hyena
  • Dingo
  • Black Panther


  • Vulture
  • Raven
  • Beetle
  • Blowflies
  • Actinobacteria
  • Earthworms
  • Egyptian vulture

Examples of aquatic biotic factors

Here are some examples of aquatic biotic factors:


  • Phytoplankton (diatoms, dinoflagellates)
  • Seagrass beds ( Posidonia oceanica, Cymodocea nodosa )
  • Giant Kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera )
  • Reed
  • Vogue

Primary consumers

  • Zooplankton (small crustaceans, copepods, ctenophores, cladocerans, etc.)
  • Bivalves (mussels, clams)
  • sea ​​cow

Secondary consumers

  • Piranha
  • Squid
  • Flamingos
  • Whales
  • Parrotfish ( Scarus ghobban )

Tertiary consumers

  • Killer whale
  • Shark
  • Marine crocodile
  • Sperm whale
  • Marine leopard
  • Sea wolf
  • Seals
  • sea ​​lions
  • Guitar stingray ( Pseudobatos productus )


  • Aquatic mold fungi

Here below you will see the images of some of the examples of these factors or aquatic biotic elements and at the end, you will see a short video in which we tell what they are and what is the difference between biotic and abiotic factors.

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