There are many different places that animals, plants, and other organisms call home – their natural habitats. In this lesson, you will go through some different natural habitats and how some are being destroyed.
Natural Habitat Defined
A natural habitat is an ecological or environmental area where a specific species lives. It is the place in nature that particular species calls home. To help picture what this means, think of a zoo. The developers of a zoo need to study where a specific animal lives so that they can replicate the animal’s natural habitat.
Chimpanzees, for example, are placed among trees from which they can swing and search for food. Plants and other organisms all have natural habitats as well. Let’s discuss some of the different types of natural habitats and the species that reside in them.
Types of Natural Habitats
There are many different types of natural habitats. Different species have adapted to the different habitats over time.
A species comes to rely on its specific natural habitat for resources that include a place to mate, a place to raise their young, and food. The two factors that really drive a habitat are temperature and precipitation.ForestsA forest is a type of habitat that has a dense population of trees. There are forests all over the world and many diverse species live inside this type of habitat. In order for a forest to survive, it needs to have a water source that will support the large amount of trees.Tropical rainforests are just one type of forest.
While they cover only 7% of the Earth, they are home to more than 50% off all plant and animal species. There is an abundance of water, year-round high temperatures, and plenty of resources for the species to survive.The red-eyed tree frog’s natural habitat is in the tropical rainforests of various countries. They live in the lower areas of the forest near streams, ponds, and rivers.
The frogs need these water resources for their babies that are born tadpoles.
WetlandsWetlands are another natural habitat for many animals. A wetland is an area where water is present for at least part of the year.
This water is usually present during a portion of the plant-growing season. The water can be in the form of ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes.Marshes are a type of wetland where many different species of plants and animals live. Amphibians need places like marshes to survive because these habitats offer both water and land for them to live in. Marshes are also home to other species such as the painted turtle, muskrats, and small birds. There is an abundance of insects that live around marshes too, which make for an excellent food source for all of the animals to survive.
DesertsOn the opposite spectrum of forests and wetlands are deserts. Deserts are defined as having less than 10 inches of rainfall per year and a very low rate of precipitation.
They are very dry and it takes unique species to call a desert home. The Gila monster is one animal that lives in deserts. They are predators who spend most of their time in burrows underground and do most of their hunting during the day.
Arctic TundraAn even more unique natural habitat is the arctic tundra.
The arctic tundra has very short days and long nights. The climate is very harsh and only very tough and well-adapted species will survive here. The growing season here is only 50 to 60 days long.Despite the harsh climate, the arctic tundra is still the natural habitat of many species. Animals such as caribou, snowy owls, polar bears, and arctic fox are just a few that call the arctic tundra home. There are plants as well, such as the bearberry, caribou moss, and lavender tea.
Destruction of Natural Habitats
Over time, a lot of the natural habitats have experienced mass amounts of damage. Habitat destruction is defined as changing the area in which a plant, animal, or other organism lives to the point where the species can no longer survive.
Habitat destruction comes in three forms: actual destruction, fragmentation, and degradation.There are many images of bulldozers plowing through the Amazon rainforest. This form of destruction, called actual destruction, destroys the habitat and some species instantly. The damage is instant and extremely hard for the species to recover from.The second type of destruction is known as fragmentation. This occurs when the land gets split into pieces. When a road is cut and paved through an area, the habitat is broken apart.
This causes the animals to have to either cross the road and risk getting hit or to stay in a smaller area with fewer resources. Plant species suffer as well; their water resources may be altered and there may be more animals eating the plants in the smaller area.The third type of destruction is degradation. Degradation occurs when something is introduced to the ecosystem, or habitat, that causes harm. There are many things that can cause this kind of harm, such as pollution and invasive species. Pollution has caused the temperature in the arctic habitats to become warmer, which is causing the ice to melt.
This habitat change is harming the polar bears’ hunting areas. Polar bears use the ice as land to hunt seals, but the less ice, the less area the polar bears have to hunt.