Q:

What is an example of an interaction between abiotic and biotic components in an ecosystem?

A:

One common interaction between biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem is photosynthesis. Sunlight is abiotic (solely energy), and it fuels the synthesis of sugars and proteins inside plant cells once it is taken up by plant leaves.

A square meter of land on Earth can receive a maximum of just over 1 kilowatt of sunlight. This energy is available to plants for uptake through its green tissues, primarily leaves. Once absorbed, the sun's energy is used by special organelles, called chloroplasts, to synthesize organic molecules with high potential energy. These molecules are then transported throughout the plant's tissues and used to drive the production of the plant's tissues. In the process, the plant excretes oxygen, which is also an abiotic input that can be taken up by animals for their own use.

Photosynthesis requires more than just sunlight. Another abiotic component of plants' metabolism is carbon dioxide, which is taken up by plants through small openings in their leaves called stoma. Water is also an important abiotic component of photosynthesis. Water is used by chloroplasts as a solvent and as an ingredient in the construction of sugars. Once synthesized, these sugars are available for use by the rest of the ecosystem via consumption by herbivores.


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