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Habitat : Introduction & Its Ecology

Sep 1, 2022


The place or location where an organism (or a biological population) lives, inhabits, or exists is referred to as its habitat. The term habitat is derived from the Latin “habitatus,” which means “having been inhabited.”  At its simplest, a habitat is a home. In biology, habitat refers to an organism’s placement within its natural ecosystem. The habitat definition can be expanded to include the environment in which organisms typically live, consume, and reproduce.

Habitat encompasses the geographic location plants or animals live in, combined with varying non-living or abiotic features such as landscape, slope, water, etc. A habitat serves the demand of survival for its inhabitants. When habitats are combined together, they form an ecosystem, which is a community of creatures that interact with their environment and other species.

Different habitats

Habitat refers to a location where organisms live. It possesses all of the necessary environmental requirements for survival. Everything revolves on acquiring food, selecting a spouse, successfully reproducing, and so on. In the case of plants, a suitable habitat is defined as a location with an optimal combination of light, air, water, and soil. Plants like prickly pear cactus, for example, require sandy soil, a dry climate, and intense sunlight to thrive in locations like the Sonoran Desert in northwest Mexico. This sort of plant cannot grow in damp or cold conditions.

 Variety of habitats

Habitat In Ecology  

In ecology, a habitat is the location where a species of creature lives or thrives. It is the species’ native habitat. It is the source of its food, shelter, and partner for reproduction. It is here that the species will try to be as adaptable as possible. Habitats might be a large geographical area or a single location (for example, a rotted log, a hollow tree, or inside the bark of a tree). They can be both terrestrial and aquatic in nature. Forest, grassland, steppe, and desert are examples of terrestrial ecosystems. Freshwater, marine water, and brackish water are all examples of aquatic ecosystems.  


Geographically, habitats may be divided into four types: arctic, temperate, subtropical, and tropical. 

  • Polar habitats: Polar habitats are found in the Earth’s two poles, namely the northern polar area (Arctic) and the southern polar region (Antarctica). These areas are brutally cold and windy. Tundra is a kind of polar ecosystem found in the arctic. It has frozen ground almost all of the time. Its top will melt in the summer, allowing some plants to grow, such as grasses and mosses. Arctic animals have particular adaptations that allow them to exist in such severe surroundings. Among these are polar bears, arctic foxes, and arctic wolves.  
 Polar habitat

Temperate habitats: Temperate habitats are found in the temperate zones, which are positioned between the subarctic and subtropical zones. Summer, autumn, winter, and spring are separate seasons in these areas. As an example, consider temperate woodlands. They may be found in eastern North America, north-eastern Asia, western and eastern Europe. The structure of temperate forests is simpler than that of tropical forests. Temperate woodlands are home to wildlife such as eastern chipmunks, white-tailed deer, and European robins.

 Temperate habitat

Subtropical habitats are those that may be found in the subtropics. They are situated geographically between the tropical and temperate zones. Subtropical deserts, which are densely forested with palms and oranges, are one type of subtropical habitat. 

 Subtropical habitat 

Tropical habitats are the diverse environments found in the tropics. The tropics encircle the equator and hence receive more direct sunlight than the other regions of the Earth. As a result, their climate is less unpredictable; they tend to be hotter and wetter. Tropical environment is exemplified by a tropical rainforest. 

Tropical habitat 

Adaptations To Habitats  

Animals and plants have specific adaptations to their habitats. Many animals, for example, have thick coats or a considerable quantity of body fat to assist insulate them from the harsh environment in polar places such as the Arctic Circle. Camouflage is another adaptation utilized by animals to adapt to their habitats. Animals that can blend with their surroundings are less conspicuous to predators.

 Adaptations to habitat

Habitat   Vs   Niche  

In ecology, habitat and niche are two distinct concepts. The above definition of habitat relates to the particular environment in which an organism lives. However, ecologists use a more sophisticated phrase when referring to animals interacting in an ecosystem, which is niche. A niche is the way or function that organism fit into their particular habitats in ecological terms. Ecologists have arrived at a conclusion that two species cannot fulfil the same role in the same niche at the same time. This is frequently due to resource rivalry. Sometimes, but not usually, this condition results in extinction. Two competing species may eventually develop minor changes and hence new niches throughout time. 


The Impacts Of Habitat Fragmentation  

Conservationists seek to protect plants, animals, and other species in their natural environments. Conservationists examine the biogeographical level of diverse ecosystems as well as their danger of collapse to monitor their state. One of ecologists’ aims is to investigate how the loss and deterioration of ecosystems impacts species diversity. Habitats get fragmented or split up when human populations and civilization grow. 

The loss and fragmentation of habitats, in turn, leads to a decrease in species variety. The Brazilian Atlantic forest, for example, has been deforested for farming and lumber. The fragmentation of a habitat into smaller, isolated “islands” results in more fringe conditions, fewer areas for plants and animals to survive, and diminished biodiversity. 

Environmental Factor Affecting Habitat  

  • Temperature, humidity, climate, soil, and light intensity, as well as the existence or absence of all the requirements that the organism need to survive, are all elements that influence an organism’s spread.  
  • Some plant and animal species have requirements that can be met in a variety of environments. The Pieris rapae butterfly, for example, is found everywhere across the continent except Antarctica because its larvae may feed on a broad variety of brassicas and other plant species, and it flourishes in any open site with different plant associations.


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