Abiotic Factors in a Terrestrial Ecosystem

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There are two types of ecosystems, terrestrial and marine. Terrestrial ecosystems are land-based ecosystems; abiotic components refer to the non-living things that make up the ecosystem. Abiotic components include the physical and chemical factors in the environment such as the climate, soil and precipitation.

Climate

  • Climate includes wind, rainfall, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and other meteorological elements in an ecosystem. An ecosystem's altitude, location and terrain determine its climate, as do nearby bodies of water and their currents. One method of classifying the climate in an ecosystem is to consider the air mass of that particular location. As such, a climate may be classified as Arctic, tropical, polar, monsoon or equatorial. These primary classifications may be subdivided into rainforest, humid subtropical, monsoon, Mediterranean, subarctic, steppe, tundra and desert.

Soil

  • Soil is a physical body made up of layers of mineral constituents of different thicknesses. The constituents differ from their parent materials in their chemical, morphological, mineralogical and physical characteristics. Soil is made up of pieces of broken rock that have been changed by environmental and chemical processes, including erosion and weathering. Clay soil is made up of fine-grained minerals, sandy soil is made up of finely divided mineral and rock particles that are a bit coarse to the touch, and silt soil is somewhere in between sand and clay.

Precipitation

  • Precipitation refers to any product of condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls to the earth under the effect of gravity. The precipitation in an ecosystem can take various forms: rain, sleet, hail, snow or drizzle. Precipitation deposits most of the fresh water on the planet. Rainfall affects the agriculture of cultivation and growth of plants in an ecosystem; it also determines if the biome is a desert, grassland, savanna or rainforest.

Clouds

  • A cloud is a visible mass of frozen ice crystals or water droplets suspended in a planet's atmosphere. There are four types of clouds. Cumulus clouds are low clouds with a noticeable vertical development and usually have a white popcorn-like appearance. The stratus cloud has a greyish appearance while the cirrus is a wispy, thin cloud that appears on a fine clear day. Cumulonimbus clouds are the tallest clouds and can produce thunder, lightning, tornadoes, heavy rains and strong winds.

References

  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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