What is habitat - SUMMARY!

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According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the definition of habitat is "a place of appropriate conditions for an organism, species or animal or plant community to live". However, in the biological sciences there are more than three definitions of habitat and they all have the spatial dimension in common.

Do you really want to discover what is habitat in ecology? So, from Ecologist Verde we invite you to read this article about what is the habitat, the characteristics of the habitats, examples of these and much more.

What is habitat and its components

As indicated in the introduction, there are several valid definitions of habitat within the biological sciences. In general, to answer the question of what is the habitat of living beingsWe can say that it is possible to define it as a space that presents adequate conditions and components so that a species can survive and reproduce, that is, so that it can be perpetuated through time.

Regarding the habitat componentsThese can be biotic or abiotic. Within the components o biotic factors, there are all those organisms that somehow interact with the species in question, be it predators, herbivores, primary producers, etc. In relation to abiotic factorsWe can mention the climate, the relief, the dynamics of the soil, the geological factors, among others. To further expand this information, we recommend you read these other articles about Biotic factors: what they are, characteristics, classification and examples and Abiotic factors: what they are, characteristics and examples.

With regard to the characteristics of habitats, these depend, to a large extent, on the needs of a species to survive and reproduce. Continue reading the following sections to learn the different types of habitats, their peculiarities and some examples.

Types of natural habitats

The great biodiversity of living beings that exists, translates into a great diversity of habitats present in the biosphere. Here we will see what the terrestrial habitat is and also what the aquatic habitat is, in addition we will classify each of them.

Terrestrial habitat

They are those spaces located on the earth's surface in which the biota inhabits. One of its peculiarities is the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere and the possibility of sudden changes in meteorological conditions, such as temperature and rainfall. In themselves, the different types of existing terrestrial habitats are related to the different biomes present in the geosphere. Among them we can mention: prairie, forest, desert, savanna, mountain, creek and more.

Learn more about what is terrestrial habitat, its types and more with this other article.

Aquatic habitat

They are those spaces where the biota inhabits that are located in the hydrosphere. They are characterized by having a more stable temperature than terrestrial habitats. They can be differentiated between:

  • Marine habitats: which are found in the oceans and seas, the light only reaches the first 100 meters of depth and the biota is adapted to live in salinity. Here you can learn more about ocean waters: what they are, characteristics and importance, the seabed: what they are, types and photos and what are the saltwater aquatic ecosystems.
  • Continental water habitats: present in rivers, streams, lakes, lagoons and other bodies of water far from the ocean. The clarity and luminosity of this type of habitat depends on the turbidity of the water. In these other articles you can read more about inland waters: what they are, characteristics and importance and about freshwater aquatic ecosystems with examples.

Examples of habitats

Now that you know the types of habitats that exist, in this section we will show you examples of habitats of some animals.

Polar bear habitat

It inhabits the polar areas of the Arctic (northern hemisphere). At present, its natural habitat is strongly threatened by climate change. We recommend you read about the Polar Ecosystem: characteristics, fauna and flora and Is the polar bear in danger of extinction?

Panda bear habitat

Its primary food is bamboo canes, therefore, it inhabits the bamboo forests found in western China. Sadly, the panda is in danger of extinction in the wild mainly due to loss of habitat. Here we tell you more about the question Does the panda bear become extinct?

Lion habitat

The characteristic habitat of lions is the savannas of Africa. In addition, they are often found in shrubby or wooded areas within savannas. We encourage you to read this other post on Are lions in danger of extinction?

Jaguar habitat

The jaguar has a wide distribution: from Mexico to Argentina. Depending on its distribution, it can inhabit mangroves, grasslands, jungles, wetlands, high-altitude forests and more environments. Here you can learn about why the jaguar is in danger of extinction.

Condor habitat

The condor, unlike the other animals mentioned, has an aerial-terrestrial habitat, that is, it lives in both terrestrial and aerial environments. It is distributed throughout the Andes Mountains and here you can learn more about its current conservation situation: Why the condor is in danger of extinction.

Dolphin habitat

Although all dolphins have an aquatic habitat, most species inhabit oceanic or marine waters (salt water), that is, in a marine habitat, such as the oceanic dolphin (Delphinus delphis), with a wide distribution in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In contrast, some species have a continental water (freshwater) habitat, such as the pink dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), which is found mainly in the Amazon River.

Now that you know what the habitats are and what those of these species are like, you may be interested in knowing even more by reading this other article about the crocodile's habitat: where does it live?

Difference between habitat and ecological niche

The definitions of habitat and ecological niche are often similar and are used synonymously. However, they don't really have the same meaning. For this reason and in order to avoid confusion, here we will tell you what is an ecological niche and we will explain the differences with respect to habitat.

The ecological niche can be defined as the survival strategy of a species, which includes how to feed, hunt, compete with other species, defend against predators, etc. In short, it is the functional role o role of a species within the ecosystem. This definition is in contrast to the definition of habitat that, as we mentioned earlier, refers only to the physical space that the species occupies.

In this way, two species can have the same habitat, but each of them has a unique ecological niche. However, it may happen that two species have a similar or even the same ecological niche. This will trigger an interaction between species called interspecific competition, which will culminate when one of the species is dominant.

To learn more about these topics, feel free to read these other Green Ecologist articles on What is an ecological niche with examples and Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is habitat, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

  • Delfín-Alfonso, C. A., Gallina-Tessaro, S., & López-González, C. A. (2013). The habitat: definition, dimensions and evaluation scales for wildlife. Wild fauna of Mexico: use, management and legislation, 285-288.
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