You might think that the Arctic would be a terrible place to live. For most of the year, there is nothing but ice and cold weather. A polar bear thinks the Arctic is the perfect place to live. That’s because the Arctic is the polar bear’s natural habitat.
You might think that a tropical island is a wonderful place to be. However, a polar bear would die on a tropical island. The bear would not be able to find its favorite food—seals—in the warm waters. The bear’s layer of fat and thick, white fur would make the bear too hot. A tropical island is the natural habitat for palm trees and parrots, but not polar bears.
WHAT IS A HABITAT?
A habitat is a place where a plant or animal normally lives. Fish live in water. Perch are fish that live in freshwater habitats. Sharks are fish that live in saltwater habitats.
Other animals live on land. Cattle, antelopes, and buffaloes are animals that live on grasslands. Camels and kangaroo rats like the blazing hot temperature of deserts. Bats, gorillas, and elephants thrive in lush, moist rain forests.
Pine trees can live in cold, snowy habitats. Cactuses can live in hot, dry desert habitats. Water lilies live in freshwater habitats.
There are many kinds of habitats. Some habitats are along seashores. Some are high up in mountains or on flat prairies. Others are in dense forests, in sandy deserts, or in the deep sea. Different kinds of plants and animals live in different kinds of habitats.
A habitat, or biome, is the type of environment in which plant and animals live. Habitat is dictated by what kinds of plants grow there, the climate and the geography. Rainforest, coral reefs and the tundra are all habitats where particular kinds of plants and animals might be found.
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. The term typically refers to the zone in which the organism lives and where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population. A habitat is made up of physical factors such as soil, moisture, range of temperature, and light intensity as well as biotic factors such as the availability of food and the presence or absence of predators. Every organism has certain habitat needs for the conditions in which it will thrive, but some are tolerant of wide variations while others are very specific in their requirements. A habitat is not necessarily a geographical area, it can be the interior of a stem, a rotten log, a rock or a clump of moss, and for a parasitic organism it is the body of its host, part of the host’s body such as the digestive tract, or a single cell within the host’s body. Habitat types include polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical. The terrestrial vegetation type may be forest, steppe, grassland, semi-arid or desert. Fresh water habitats include marshes, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and estuaries, and marine habitats include salt marshes, the coast, the intertidal zone, reefs, bays, the open sea, the sea bed, deep water and submarine vents. Habitats change over time. This may be due to a violent event such as the eruption of a volcano, an earthquake, a tsunami, a wildfire or a change in oceanic currents; or the change may be more gradual over millennia with alterations in the climate, as ice sheets and glaciers advance and retreat, and as different weather patterns bring changes of precipitation and solar radiation. Other changes come as a direct result of human activities; deforestation, the ploughing of ancient grasslands, the diversion and damming of rivers, the draining of marshland and the dredging of the seabed. The introduction of alien species can have a devastating effect on native wildlife, through increased predation, through competition for resources or through the introduction of pests and diseases to which the native species have no immunity.
Habitats are being destroyed around the world. As humans move into new areas, they clear the land to build on. They cut down trees for building materials and fuel. They dry out swamps for farmland. They dam rivers for electricity. The animals in the habitat must adapt to the changes or move elsewhere. If they cannot, they die. Many plants die, too.