A habitat is a place which is ecologically and environmentally suitable to be inhabited by a specific species of animals, plants or any other organisms. A habitat makes conducive conditions for the animals to find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction, in a natural environment. Every species of living beings have adapted themselves to a particular type of habitat extending from the deep ocean floor to the polar ice caps. The organisms which can survive in one kind of habitat, cannot survive in other kind of it and this concept is coined as habitat requirement. For example, a fish requires clean water to live in and a grasshopper finds a large space so that it can hop around and can eat leaves.
Let us find some amazing facts about habitats:
• Many plants and animals share the same habitat and live together to form a “community”. When the community of living beings comes in contact with the non-living world around it, it forms “Ecosystem”.
• There arises competition for food and water among plants and animals species. So, all of them have to get themselves engaged in different niches or jobs in the community. A niche forms the fundamental unit of a habitat. The physical space used by a plant or animal is the habitat niche.
• The niche habitats comprise lakes, streams, forests or even a drop of water, all contributing to the biosphere of Earth. Habitats are continually changing as a result of the changes in Earth’s atmosphere. Biomes are the habitats having same climate and plants.
• Habitats may be constant or seasonal. Constant habitats include the places where there is little variation in the environment over time for a particular organism. For example, in a cave, the temperature remains almost same throughout the year making it perfect for the bat to escape extreme high and low outside temperatures. Seasonal habitats have specific predictable periods of favorable and unfavorable conditions for the organisms. The intermittent streams after heavy rainfall are perfect habitat for amphibians while between rains they become uninhabitable.
• Certain habitats depend on the size and life history of the species while many others do not. A large male deer is more probable to mate a harem of female deer than a small adult deer, as it can be easily devoured by wolves. So, the degree of predation is higher for smaller animals. In many other habitats, there is equal mortality rate for all organisms irrespective of the size.
• Cockroaches eat the dead plants recycling the nutrients back into the soil which are responsible for the growth of the plants. So, they play an important part in a habitat.
• Fruit bats consume fruits and pass out the seeds of the fruits while excreting waste. These seeds get spread in the soil and so they play a vital role in habitat.
• Aquatic habitats comprise seas, oceans, lakes, rivers, wetlands, lagoons, marshes, streams, rivers and swamps. A wide variety of wild animals – amphibians, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, birds, have been adapted to these aquatic habitats.
• Desert habitats are scrublands having landscapes lacking precipitation and include scrub vegetation such as grasses, shrubs and herbs.
• Forest habitats occupy one-third of the world’s land surface found across the globe. Grassland habitats are found where there are plenty of grasses with few large trees or shrubs. Tundra habitats are places featuring low temperatures, short vegetation, long winters, brief growing seasons and limited drainage.
• The greatest levels of biodiversity among species are found in the regions near the Equator while the lowest levels are found near the poles.
• Habitats face many changes regularly due to bursting rivers, fires, storms and changes in climate. In the present era, pollution produced from burning of fossil fuels is leading to increase in environmental pollution resulting in natural climate change. Global warming is a threat to all the habitats on our planet.