Biotic and abiotic factors are ecological terms used to describe the living and nonliving things in an ecosystem. Biotic factors are the living things that make up an ecosystem, such as plants and animals. Abiotic factors are the nonliving material or chemical factors in an ecosystem, like the weather. The natural ecosystem of a polar bear is the Arctic tundra.
The first thing that comes to mind when the Arctic region is mentioned is the cold. This is because the Arctic region is located in the North Pole, an area synonymous with extreme cold and the resultant effects. Cold is an abiotic factor that affects polar bears in several ways. Polar bears have adapted to survive in the cold of the Arctic by growing long, thick furs. They also have a thick layer of fat known as blubber, directly underneath their skin, to help them keep warm in the cold. Polar bears have small ears, and this adaptation helps prevent the loss of heat through their ears. The stiff hairs on their paws help provide them with insulation from the cold snow.
Snow is an abiotic factor in the Arctic ecosystem. Unlike other bears in warmer parts of the world, polar bears have white fur. This serves to help them blend into the snow in their natural habitat. This adaptation is necessary because of their huge size. Any other color would make them stand out sharply from their background and compromise their ability to hunt. The bristly hair on their padded paws also serves to provide greater traction in the snow, allowing them to get a better grip.
Water is an abiotic factor in the Arctic region. Polar bears are strong swimmers. They dive into holes in the ice to hunt for fish and seals. Their paws serve as paddles to propel them through the water. Their nostrils close while they are under water, preventing any accidental inhalation of water. The thick layer of fatty blubber helps protect them from hypothermia in the icy cold water. The fur of polar bears lies flat and close to the skin, serving as a sort of waterproof barrier while they are in the water.
Seals are biotic components of the Arctic region. Bearded and ringed seals make up a large part of the polar bear's diet. Polar bears have adapted to hunt seals in their natural habitat by stalking the holes in the ice from which seals periodically emerge to rest. The long muzzle of the polar bear is well-suited to search in ice holes for seals. The powerfully developed hindquarters of the polar bear enable it to drag seals from an ice hole, and the powerful jaws enable it to crush the skull of the seal.