What is habitat in biology?

The habitat , biology and ecology, is the term used to refer to the place where an organism or group of organisms, as a community, for example lives. It is the characteristic site where they find food and the appropriate conditions for their reproduction, so they can develop normally.

Generally, a “habitat” is defined as the natural ecosystem where one or more types of organisms reside. However, this depends on the approach taken, since the habitat of a fish is not equivalent to the habitat of a bear, a plant or a parasite and the habitat of an animal parasite is not the same as a plant. , just as not all fish live in the same type of waters

The polar bear habitat

However, it is not only a geographical area, that is, a portion of water, land or part of the body of an animal or a plant, but a habitat also includes all the biotic and abiotic characteristics related to said space.

The characteristics or biotic (biological) factors typical of a habitat have to do with the organisms that in some way or another condition the presence of other living beings in that given space, thanks to their interspecific ecological interactions.

The habitat of a lion, for example, does not correspond only to the portion of land in the South of the Sahara where it lives, but to all the plants and animals that characterize this region, from where it usually gets its food and shelter.

The abiotic (physical) characteristics or factors of a habitat, on the other hand, correspond to the non-living “parts” of the environment, those such as water, oxygen, exposure to sunlight, soil, temperature, the wind, among others, which frequently determine the presence of certain organisms in it.

What’s in a habitat?

Whether aquatic or terrestrial, any habitat provides for the organisms that occupy it:

  • A space to live.
  • Source of water and food.
  • Shelter (especially for animals).

Habitat types

In the biosphere there are many different types of habitats, which are occasionally defined by those who study them in relation to a particular organism, which usually presents various adaptations to be able to survive in it.

However, many authors consider that the most important categorization is based on their location, that is, whether they are on land or underwater, which defines terrestrial habitats and aquatic habitats, respectively.

It is important to understand, especially in the case of many animals, that some species can occupy more than one habitat throughout their lives, such is the case of many migratory birds and mammals, which change their habitat depending on certain conditions.

Aquatic habitats

Aquatic habitat

Aquatic habitats are the spaces in the water inhabited by aquatic organisms: fish, amphibians, plants, insects, mollusks, algae, mammals, etc.

They are described based on different elements, but the most important distinction is in relation to the characteristics of the water, that is, whether it is sweet or salty; if it is current or stagnant, etc.

These can include permanently submerged (flooded) places, such as rivers, lakes, lagoons, seas and oceans, for example, or spaces that are temporarily flooded, such as puddles, ponds and others, in which the stay of the organisms that they live there.

Aquatic habitats can vary in depth, oxygen content and dissolved minerals in the water, as well as its pH and temperature, exposure to sunlight, proximity to civilization, etc.

Terrestrial habitats

Terrestrial habitat

Terrestrial habitat

Terrestrial habitats are all those found on the surface of the earth. They are geographically divided as polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical, depending on where they are on the globe, but their main differences are climatological.

  • The polar habitats are those that are found towards the North and South poles of the earth, that is, in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, which are characterized by their low temperatures.
  • In temperate regions , located between tropical and subtropical regions, habitats can be differentiated biotically and abiotically throughout the year, since they present the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn.
  • Subtropical habitats (very close to the tropics) are characterized by intermediate climates between tropical and temperate, with moderate seasonality.
  • Tropical habitats have almost the same weather conditions throughout the year, which allows the development of a large number of organisms.

Examples of terrestrial habitats can be forests, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, cities, towns, farms, caves, and more.

Generally, the organisms that inhabit these places do so depending on the humidity and the characteristics of the soil, as this conditions the presence of many plants and fungi that, in turn, condition the presence of other living beings.

Human habitat

Human habitat

The human habitat is where human beings live; almost always negatively conditions the presence of other living beings around them, since anthropic activities tend to go against many basic aspects of nature.

Human habitats are the villages, towns, cities and large metropolises that humans have adapted over time for their subsistence and which also include:

  • All spaces for obtaining and / or producing their food.
  • The spaces intended for work and recreational activity.
  • The spaces that function as a refuge and establishment of family groups.

Habitat examples

Beaver habitat

Dam made by beavers (Castor)

Beavers are large rodents that have a flattened tail covered with “scales” and characteristic huge teeth.

Although they are animals of terrestrial habitat, they need bodies of water to survive, since they usually build a kind of dams with tree trunks that they use to dam water and in whose surroundings they make wooden domes to live inside, to which there is usually access from the water.

Scorpion habitat

Scorpions are part of the phylum of arthropods; They belong specifically to the group of arachnids and are characterized by their elongated body, their front claws and by the stinger, often poisonous, that is curled at the end of their tail.

They are nocturnal animals and, depending on the species, they tend to live in different types of terrestrial habitats, being an important part of the day protected from light and hidden in their shelters, which are generally cracks in the ground or in walls, spaces under rocks or bark. trees, litter, etc.

There are species that live in desert environments, others that live in dark and deep caves; some are exclusive to certain environments and others are more cosmopolitan or “flexible.”

Chameleon habitat

Chameleons are very striking reptiles, as they can change their skin color to camouflage themselves depending on where they are.

These animals are adapted to survive in many different ecosystems, their most common geographic ranges being Africa and Madagascar, where they can be found in tropical forests, mountain rain forests, savannas and even deserts, although they are almost always found above the trees.

Lion habitat

Lion habitat (Panthera leo)

Lions are large carnivorous mammals in danger of extinction that inhabit the African continent and whose habitat usually varies between grasslands and savannas, although they can also be found in open forests and dense thickets.

Tiger habitat

Tiger habitat (Panthera tigris)

Tigers are other carnivorous big cats. They are characterized by the color of their fur, which generally features a striped pattern of black and orange lines. Like many other large cats, these are considered “vulnerable”, that is, very close to being in danger of extinction.

Tigers are found in many different habitats, from rainforests and grasslands, to savannas and mangrove swamps, which can be mainly distributed in Asia and Russia.

White shark habitat

White shark habitat (Carcharodon carcharias)

The white shark is undoubtedly the most popular representative of the group of chondrichthyans or cartilaginous fish. It is a fearsome large aquatic predator, characterized by its great speed, its white color and its sharp teeth.

Their most common habitat corresponds to the quality waters of the coastal areas of much of the world’s oceans, but they can also be found on the outskirts of coastal waters or even in the deep ocean (up to 1,000 meters deep).

Bear habitat

Habitat of the brown bear (Ursus arctos)

Bears are also imposing mammals that inhabit different terrestrial ecosystems, finding important differences between species, since some live in high mountain forests, others in polar ice and there are also in some desert areas.

However, these animals usually require large areas with dense covers that can serve as shelter during the day or night.


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