A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. The term typically refers to the zone in which the organism lives and where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction, utilizing the qualities the species has adapted to survive within the ecology of the habitat. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population.

A habitat is made up of physical factors such as soil, moisture, range of temperature, and light intensity as well as biotic factors such as the availability of food and the presence or absence of predators. Every organism has certain habitat requirements for the conditions in which it will thrive, but some are tolerant of wide variations while others are very specific in their requirements. A habitat is not necessarily a geographic area—for a parasitic organism it is the body of its host, part of the host's body such as the digestive tract, or a cell within the host's body.

Habitat types include polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical. The terrestrial vegetation type may be forest, steppe, grassland, semi-arid or desert. Freshwater habitats include marshes, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and estuaries, and marine habitats include salt marshes, the coast, the intertidal zone, reefs, bays, the open sea, the sea bed, deep water and submarine vents.

Habitats change over time. This may be due to a violent event such as the eruption of a volcano, an earthquake, a tidal wave, a bushfire or a change in oceanic currents. Or the change may be more gradual over millennia with alterations in the climate, as ice sheets and glaciers advance and retreat, as different weather patterns bring changes of precipitation and solar radiation. Other changes come as a direct result of human activities; deforestation, the ploughing of ancient grasslands, the diversion and damming of rivers, the draining of marshland and the dredging of the seabed. The introduction of alien species can have a devastating effect on native wildlife, through increased predation, through competition for resources or through the introduction of pests and diseases to which the native species have no immunity.


"I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world."
Richard Feynman
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