Animals & Wildlife Magazine

What Are Habitats?

By Azanimals @azanimals
(c) A-Z-Animals A habitat is the immediate environment in which a living organism (an animal or plant), exists. A habitat can exist in any size and can even be as small as a rock pool or a log that is decaying on the forest floor. The word habitat however, generally refers to the grouping of animals and plants, together with their surroundings. Habitats contain both living organisms and non-living objects and can contain anywhere from just a few species to thousands of them, all coexisting in a very small space.

Habitats are constantly changing due to bursting rivers, fires, storms and changes in climate. Animal species are often capable of adapting to their altered surroundings although some species of animal require very specific conditions in order to survive. Ice ages come and go, taking life with them and forcing animals into areas which they previously would not of inhabited. In the modern world, natural climate change is accelerated by the levels of pollution that are produced from the burning of fossil fuels by people, which is speeding up the naturally occurring climatic changes.

(c) A-Z-Animals
For years now, the incredible variety of species (and the variety within species) has fascinated scientists all around the world. It has been noted that the greatest levels of species richness are in the regions surrounding the Equator, and the lowest levels of biodiversity are found at the poles. No-one is really sure as to the reason why the Earth is filled with such an incredible number of animal species, but more and more people are slowly becoming concerned about the effects that climate change, pollution and deforestation will have on habitats that are rich in species such as coral reefs and tropical rainforests.

Habitats are spread across enormous areas of the world such as the South American Amazon Rainforest which covers 5,500,000 km2, while the African Sahara Desert covers 8,600,000 km2 both of which are enormous regions of the planet. Animals however, are not spread out across the earth so evenly as many are still inhabiting the same regions where they first evolved millions of years ago. The colder parts of the world, such as the polar regions have little in the way of species variation as animals inhabiting these areas must be specially adapted to the cold.

(c) A-Z-Animals
However, what the polar regions lack in biodiversity they make up for in population numbers as the Antarctic Ocean is home to millions and millions of crab-eater seals, which are the most numerous large mammals on the planet. Some animals are also distributed around the world in accordance with the plants that grow there, as certain species of animal must eat certain species of plant (like a giant panda needing to inhabit areas where bamboo grows).

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