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It's Alive!

Photo courtesy Evan Whitaker

Look closely at the photograph of the big horn sheep above. Think about the sheep's relationship with other organisms. Are there other living things that the sheep depends on for food or protection? Does the sheep provide food for other organisms? Does it require other organisms to reproduce? Take a few minutes and list as many relationships as you can that this sheep might have with other organisms.

Living organisms always affect other organisms, either directly or indirectly. Organisms and the organic matter they produce are called biotic factors in an environment.

Variations in biotic factors influence the organisms found in an environment. Compare the environment of the big horn sheep shown above with the environment of the sheep shown in the first photograph. What obvious biotic differences exist between these two ecosystems? What abiotic differences are there between the two ecosystems? Make a list of the differences and compare your list with a friend.

Try it!

Step outside and look for any animal, even an insect. List at least ten bioticfactors in this animal's environment.  Next to each item describe what would happen to the animal if that factor either didn't exist or changed drastically.

Abiotic factors influence biotic factors. The photograph below shows a desert ecosystem. Observe the obvious and implied biotic and abiotic factors in this ecosystem. List as many differences as you can see or infer.

Photo courtesy Evan Whitaker

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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE Earth Systems Science core.


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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