The limiting factors of the ecosystem

The limiting factors of the ecosystem

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It is the set of all physical factors that can affect the communities of a certain region.

These influence the growth, activity and characteristics that beings have, as well as their distribution in different places. These factors vary from location to location, determining a wide range of environments.

The different abiotic factors can be grouped into two main types:

- the Climatic factors, such as light, temperature, and humidity, which characterize the climate of a region
- and the edaphic factors, of which the chemical composition and the structure of the soil stand out.


Light is a manifestation of energy whose main source is the sun. It is indispensable to the development of plants. In fact, plants produce the matter of which their organism is formed through a process - photosynthesis - carried out by capturing light energy. Virtually all animals need light to survive. Exceptions are some species that live in caves - cavernicolous species - and species that live in the deep water aquatic - abyssal species.

Certain animals, such as butterflies, require high light intensity and are therefore called species luciferous. In contrast, beings like the snail and the worm don't need much light, avoiding it, so they are called species. lucifuges.

Light influences the behavior and distribution of living things and also their morphological characteristics.

Light and Behaviors of Living Beings

The animals present photo shoot, that is, sensitivity to light, so they move toward it or move away from it. Like animals, plants also orient themselves towards light, that is, they present phototropism. Animals and plants present photoperiodism, ie ability to react to the duration of the daily luminosity to which they are subjected - photoperiod. Many flowering plants react differently to the photoperiod, and therefore have different flowering times. Animals also react in different ways to the photoperiod, so they present their activity period at different times of the day.


Each species can only survive within certain temperature limits, which gives this factor great importance. Each being survives between certain temperature limits - thermal amplitude - existing neither above nor below a certain value. Each species has an optimal temperature for carrying out its vital activities. Some beings have great thermal amplitude of existence - eurothermal beings - while others only survive within narrow temperature limits - stenothermal beings.

Temperature and Animal Behavior

Some animals, at times of the year when temperatures deviate from the optimal value for the development of their activities, acquire behaviors that allow them to survive during this period:

  • animals that are not easily able to make large displacements such as geckos reduce their vital activities to minimum values ​​and remain in a latent state of life;
  • animals that can move easily, such as swallows, migrate, that is, leave at a certain time of year to other regions with favorable temperatures.

Throughout the year, certain plants suffer changes in their appearance, caused by temperature variations. Animals also have their own characteristics of adaptation to different temperature values. For example, those who live in very cold regions usually have long coat and a layer of fat under the skin.


It is a limiting factor of extreme importance for the survival of a community. Besides its involvement in cellular activities, we must not forget its importance in plant physiology (perspiration and conduction of sap). It is from the soil that the roots draw the water necessary for the survival of the vegetables.

Nutrient Availability

It is another limiting factor that deserves to be considered, especially in marine environments.