Habitat types - Examples and photos

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All living beings can exist thanks to the conditions provided by the environment. However, biological diversity occurs thanks to the variations generated by geographical position or weather conditions. This is how different types of natural habitats are diversified, distinguishable by the elements that compose them. If you want to know how to classify them, in this Green Ecologist article we will teach you the types of habitats there are and the different examples of ecosystems that exist for you to delve into this interesting topic.

What is a habitat

A habitat is a auspicious place where a living organism lives or populations of the same species, be it animal, plant, fungus or bacterium. This concept refers only to organisms of the same species, whether individual or grouped in populations, but does not include communities made up of different species. The habitat has specific characteristics so that the organism can exist and carry out its development, feeding and reproduction. These characteristics are classified as biotic and abiotic:

  • Biotic characteristics: they comprise all the living elements that are part of the network of interactions.
  • Abiotic characteristics: they refer to everything that is not alive, that is, physical and chemical factors such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, nutrients or pH, among others.

There are 3 types of habitat, classified according to their interaction with the predominant abiotic factor on which the species develops, be it water, land or air. Next, we explain how they are classified together with examples of biomes and species that develop in them.

If you want to know more, we recommend these other articles on What is habitat and What are biomes: types and examples.

Terrestrial habitat

The first type of natural habitat is terrestrial and the organisms associated with the soil inhabit it. Plants, bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoa inhabit here, all of them with adaptations to the common conditions of this type of habitat.


Deserts are a perfect example of terrestrial habitat types. An example of this terrestrial desert habitat is the Sonoran Desert, in Mexico. These types of biomes are characterized by:

  • Low levels of biodiversity.
  • Annual rainfall less than 25mm.
  • Soil eroded due to lack of vegetation.
  • Temperatures of up to 50 ° C during the day and several degrees below zero at night.

Despite this, there are species that have managed to adapt to inclement conditions. Saguaros, cacti with the scientific name of Carnegiea gigantea and that they are adapted with a columnar structure that reduces the area to reduce the loss of perspiration in their leaves. Many animals, such as bats and hummingbirds, feed on it. Another interesting desert species is the kangaroo rat Dipodomys spectabilis, which can survive without water, since it has a very specialized metabolism that can obtain this vital liquid from seeds, insects or fruit.

Rain forest

Another example of a terrestrial habitat is the rainforest biome, such as the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. This biome is characterized by abundant rains of 2000 mm per year and warm temperatures of 25 ° C, which favors thick vegetation with a reverberant number of associated animals. This vegetation is organized in layers, each with different heights:

  • The soil layer: on this stands the understory layer composed of shrubs and shade plants such as Maranta leuconeura, adapted to the minimum solar rays that cross the multiple vegetal layers. This plant can also close its leaves at night to prevent water loss.
  • The canopy layer: gathers larger trees, as well as epiphytes with showy flowers such as orchids of the genus Zygopetalum.
  • The emerging layer: composed of giant trees up to 50 meters high, such as Terminalia oblonga that can withstand the winds of great heights.

Here you can read more about the jungle ecosystem and its characteristics.

Air-ground habitat

Many animals have the ability to detach themselves from the ground, creating the air-ground habitat type categorization. They are not completely independent of the ground because flight demands a lot of energy, which is why they dominate both airspace and land. In this habitat are birds and insects, which have developed adaptations to defy gravity:

  • Flight structures: like a pair of wings in birds and Diptera, or two pairs in insects, to soar and propel themselves in the air.
  • Flight techniques to make their movement more efficient: where they take advantage of the ascending and descending air currents generated by the difference in temperatures.

These organisms move within the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to the ground, since in more distant layers the amount of oxygen is not enough, the pressure is too high and the temperatures are too low.

Alpine tundra troposphere

Numerous species of birds are usually associated with the high mountains, where it is easy to take flight with the air currents that are formed there, in addition to to be able to find shelters raised to create nests away from predators in terrestrial habitats.

An example of this is the Indian goose. Anser indicus, which lives in the snow-capped mountains of Tibet, an alpine tundra-type biome. This is the highest migratory bird that can fly, reaching up to 8,847 meters in height. Here the winds blow at 300 kilometers per hour and oxygen begins to run low.

These birds they have huge wings with which they glide through the air currents, and this flapping helps them generate heat to avoid the formation of ice on their feathers. To make the most of oxygen, they have sacks where they accumulate air so that it is passed through your lungs twice, thus increasing your respiratory efficiency.

If you want to know more, do not hesitate to read this article about the Tundra: characteristics, flora and fauna.

Temperate deciduous forest and fir forest troposphere

Another example of animals in air-ground habitats are monarch butterflies, Dananus plexippus. These Lepidopterans begin their life as larvae that become caterpillars, associated with terrestrial milkweed plants of the genus Milkweed. They are then wrapped in a chrysalis from which the butterfly emerges. In the fall, the butterflies set out from Canada and the United States to the temperate forests of Mexico to avoid the cold to come. The flight they undertake is 4,500 kilometers and they don't stop during the journey. Its routes are very marked and new generations can even travel the same line as their predecessors.

To know more details about the monarch butterfly, you can visit this post on The migration of the monarch butterfly.

Aquatic habitat

In this habitat, species adapted to aquatic life can develop, which can be fresh water such as rivers or lakes, or salt water, such as seas, oceans or estuaries. These organisms can be plants, marine mammals, arthropods, cephalopods, algae or cnidarians. They may or may not be fully adapted to underwater life, since some can intersperse the terrestrial habits with the aquatic ones.

Freshwater Lakes and Rivers in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the freshwater biome of lakes and rivers in central Africa we find the Nile crocodiles, Crocodylus niloticus. Some of the characteristics of these semi-aquatic reptiles are:

  • They have a surprising physic structure: that works as advanced machinery.
  • May dive into the water partially- His nostrils and eyes are at the top, being hidden under water while he can see and breathe.
  • May fully immerse: Here, your body is encapsulated from the water, closing your throat, ears and nostrils, while your third eyelid unfolds to protect the eyes.
  • Has a predation technique dependent on water to feed themselves: since they wait for their prey to approach to drink water to drown them and be able to consume them.
  • May hunt aquatic animals: such as fish.

This crocodile is also found in bodies of water that man supplies and there are multiple cases of human death from Nile crocodiles.

Coral reefs of tropics

Coral reefs in tropical areas are one of the types of biomes that host a large amount of saltwater biodiversity, specifically host 25% of marine species. Coral reefs are composed of various corals, animals with rigid structures of calcium carbonate forming large structures that create rich ecosystems that function as nurseries for juvenile fish, as well as habitat for starfish, sea squirts, sea urchins, tropical fish, mollusks, crustaceans, marine sponges and jellyfish.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is an excellent example. Some of the most representative species of this reef are leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea, dugongs Dugong dugongs and clown fish like him Amphiprion akindynos.

If you are more curious, you can read this post by Green Ecologist about What is a coral reef.

If you want to read more articles similar to Habitat types, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

  • National Geographic. (2010). Monarch butterfly. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.es/animales/mariposa-monarca
  • Whiteman, L. (2000). Bar-headed geese migrate over Mount Everest, where oxygen is scarce and life is rare. How do they survive in such conditions? "The High Life". Audubon 102 (6): 104-108. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20140209231019/http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/birds/birds0011.html
  • Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico. (2022). Sahuaro, key species in the desert ecosystem of Sonora. Available at https://www.gob.mx/semarnat/es/articulos/sahuaro-especie-clave-en-el-ecosistema-desertico-de-sonora?idiom=es
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