2 March 2024

The world we live in is full of unique natural places with special characteristics. Likewise, we can find an endless number of plant and animal species that can amaze us However, it is important to know the difference between a terrestrial ecosystem and a natural habitat.

Today we will not only help you understand the difference, but you will also learn the definition of a natural terrestrial habitat and what are the living beings that live in that place. In addition to this, we will also tell you what are the types of natural habitats that there is in the world and which ones are the most suitable for children and humans in general.

Definition of natural habitat

According to the definition provided by the Royal Spanish Academy, a “natural habitat” is defined as that environment that has and meets the necessary conditions for an organism, animal or plant community to develop and grow over time. However, in the biological sciences it is usually given several definitions that fit each particular situation.

Not only must there be environmental conditions for a living being to develop, multiply and coexist, but the site or environment must also have the necessary components for life. This is essential, since, being living organisms, regardless of their complexity, they must have what is necessary to be born, grow, reproduce and die. In other words, the life cycle depends to a large extent on the environmental conditions.

For example, a marsupial requires optimal environmental conditions to be able to lead a life. However, a single-celled organism can withstand more extreme conditions and adapt to a wide variety of environments. This will largely depend on whether it is a biotic or abiotic environment. The difference between these is that the first is made up of predators, herbivores, and all kinds of animals. While the second focuses more on environmental conditions such as relief, climate, soil quality, among other factors.

To make this whole subject of the definition of natural habitat a little more practical and summarized, keep in mind the following key points:

  • It is an environment in which animal and plant life can exist and coexist.
  • There must be specific environmental conditions depending on the environment.
  • Animal and plant life changes depending on the type of natural habitat.
  • It is defined by a community of animals or different plant species.
  • The bacteria and the single celled organisms they can also make a site a natural habitat.
  • Habitats are spread all over the world.

It is important to highlight that the ecosystems and habitats they are not the same. The difference between the two is that a habitat is given by a certain area with specific conditions, while an ecosystem can encompass one or several habitats.

What are the characteristics of a natural habitat?

The characteristics of the habitats depend to a great extent on the habitat type itself, since not all have or have the same conditions. However, there are some general aspects that they all share which are:

  • Quantity and quality of oxygen.
  • Ambient temperature.
  • Type of food and nutrients in the environment.
  • Soil quality.

These are just some of the more general characteristics of a natural habitat for animals. However, there are other points that are important to know and mention. Among these we will find:

  1. Type of vegetation.

This is a characteristic aspect of the many terrestrial habitats that exist throughout the world. One way to see the difference between one and the other is by considering the amount of vegetation there is. For example, in a savannah, the vegetation will have certain characteristics in its trees, such as height, types of plants, size of leaves, among others. While in a jungle or tropical forest type habitat, the amount of vegetation is greater, without forgetting that the soil conditions are not the most favorable in terms of nutrients.

  1. precipitation.

Another aspect that helps to perfectly define habitats. If we compare any jungle with an arid environment such as a sandy desert, the amount of water per year that falls in the jungle is much higher than what is seen in the desert. All this without mentioning that, depending on the desert locationit may or may not receive water at some time of the year.

In the case of the jungles, the soil remains humid or wet due to the amount of water that falls most of the year. Without leaving aside the amount of moisture in the environment, as well as the enormous vegetation that prevents the sun’s rays from reaching the ground.

  1. soil nutrients

Many people to date have had the belief that the jungle is a place rich in nutrients due to the enormous amount of vegetation there is. However, this is a commonly believed error, since the jungle floorIn general terms, it is poor in nutrients. All the plant species found in this environment have managed to adapt to the low amount of nutrients, minerals and soil conditions in order to grow and maintain themselves over time.

For example, of all the biomes in the world, the montane and taiga biomes maintain a good level of nutrients and minerals in their soils. For this reason, they are the most suitable for growing crops, in addition to the fact that it is highly likely to find plant species that offer quality fruits, very different from what is found in a jungle or tropical forest.

  1. amount of animal life

To end this section, there is the amount of animal life. For example, if we are located in a marine aquatic ecosystem, you can see the difference in the number of species and the types of animals you will find. It happens that, on the sea surface or shallow environments, the largest amount of marine life is usually found. Here there is an enormous variety of species and they are characterized by having a small or relatively medium size.

The interesting thing about the depths of the ocean is that, due to such extreme conditions, animal life is very scarce. Perhaps the most curious thing about this environment is that the animals are much larger and have a particular and unique appearance. One of the reasons for these “mutations” is because the sun’s rays do not reach a certain depth, in addition to the pressure of the deep water and how little oxygen there is. All these are key aspects that directly influence the marine life that develops in that habitat.

It is thanks to such features that marine life is the most diverse on our planet. Such are the conditions that it is impossible to convert it into a human habitat, at least for a few more decades. So at the moment our favorite habitat is terrestrial, so to speak.

What is the importance of natural habitats for living things?

To understand the level of importance that habitats have for children, animals and vegetation, it is necessary to know some of the problems that directly affect them. Pollution, in general terms, is the main factor influencing the stability and balance of nature.

As the years go by, the impact that pollution has on the world is greater. This implies that certain habitats are likely to be affected by human activity. All this becomes the disappearance of plant species and along with it, animals that directly depend on certain species. That is to say, that, in nature, everything is a chain and that, if something is out of balance, this will create a domino effect affecting other species indirectly.

Therefore, by maintaining good waste management and carrying favorable environmental practices for the world, we can preserve habitats in their natural state. Now, this human activity can not only cause deforestation, soil degradation and other problems, but invasive species can also affect any habitat. Therefore, it is vital to maintain a habitat as it is, without having to include a new species, regardless of whether it is an animal or plant species. An invasive species, however simple or defenseless it may seem, can become the reason for the destruction and change of an entire habitat and ecosystem.

Types of natural habitats

Generally speaking, there are about 7 types of habitats around the world. However, this does not mean that there are subtypes of habitats based on the main ones. So, some of these types are the following:

  1. Terrestrial habitats.

It can be said that this is the most varied of all the types that exist and are known. The reason for this is because we find entire ecosystems such as forests, tundras, wetlands, deserts, grasslands, savannahs, and grasslands.

Each of these environments have unique characteristics and that are the differentiators of one habitat from another. For example:

  • Forests can be tropical, coniferous, humid, cloudy, boreal, among others. This type of habitat harbors about 10% of the terrestrial animal species.
  • Deserts are the driest or coldest areas on the planet, in addition to being an extremely difficult environment to live in and very few plant and animal species manage to survive.
  • The prairies, savannahs and grasslands are characterized by having mainly grass, in addition to the fact that herbivorous animals abound. Although there are also predators in these environments.
  1. wetlands

These are environments or land areas, but they are highly saturated with water a lot part of the time. Sure, such exposure to water can be temporary or permanent. It is worth mentioning that, for these environments or habitats, aquatic life tends to stand out and in terms of vegetation, it is an aspect that predominates.

Some key points that characterize wetlands and that will allow you to identify these habitats are the following:

  • All continents have wetlands, with the exception of Antarctica.
  • The places where this environment predominates are in countries like Brazil and the like.
  • In the West Siberian Plain is replete with wetlands.
  • Much of the extension of these environments is at least 100 meters below sea level.
  1. aquatic habitats

These are all those places that are filled with water, be it the sea, the ocean, or a slightly smaller environment, such as lakes, lagoons, and rivers. In general, wetlands tend to fall into this category, however, it is better to keep them separated by their characteristics and the species that both habitats have.

Despite being something where the water is predominant, this does not imply that animal life must have the necessary characteristics to develop in these environments. We say this, since there are birds, amphibians and other species that are not purely aquatic.

What is a natural habitat for children?

A natural habitat for children is something more artificial than natural, that is, they are environments created by humans. This implies greater control of the place, so there is a selection of plant species in advance, as well as animals that are suitable for interaction with people. However, naturally there is no such thing as a natural habitat for children.

What is a human habitat?

Both cities and towns and any other environment in which there are foundations and physical structures are considered as human habitats. Although it is worth mentioning that there is a fine line between being human and belonging to a human habitat and being part of a natural habitat. The difference is that while in the first case there is a large volume of people, vehicles, machinery, foundations, technology and so on, in the second, life is more closely linked to nature. That is, there is no such influence of technology in all its aspects.

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