Habitat Definition and Meaning

Habitat is, in ecology, the place whose conditions are suitable for the life of an organism, species or community, whether animal or plant.

Habitat comes from the Latin habĭtat, which is the third person singular of the present indicative of the verb habitāre, which means ‘to live’, ‘to dwell’.

As such, the habitat comprises the set of factors related to physical conditions (abiotic factors), such as climate, soil, topography, water resources, etc., as well as the organisms or species that develop in it (biotic factors), which they create the right environment for the life of a series of species, both animal and vegetable, and that may or may not include the human factor (anthropic factor).

In 1985, the General Assembly of the United Nations decreed that World Habitat Day would be celebrated on the first Monday of October , a favorable date for reflection on living conditions on the planet and to raise awareness about the need to promote conditions to stimulate A sustainable habitat

Human habitat

As a human habitat, the set of factors that affect a place is habitable by the human species is designated. Abiotic conditions, such as climate, temperature or topography, as well as access to food and natural resources necessary for life, to which social and cultural factors should be added, are key to human habitat.

Initially, the river valleys were the natural settlements of the species: access to natural resources and food (hunting, fishing and gathering), as well as the climate, created favorable conditions for the development of life. Nowadays, the type of habitat can be classified according to the type of housing (house, hut, shop, etc.), or the establishment of the human population (cities, towns or villages). In addition, depending on the environment, it can be subdivided into urban or rural habitat.

The architecture, meanwhile, takes the concept of habitat to refer to the conditions to be met by interior spaces to be inhabited by humans, according to their type of function.

Terrestrial habitat

The terrestrial habitat includes that of animals and plants that fulfill their life cycle in the soil or subsoil. According to abiotic factors, that is, the place where it is located and the environmental conditions to which it gives rise, terrestrial habitats are subdivided into forests, grasslands, savannas, deserts, mountains, marshes, uplands, etc.

Aquatic habitat

As an aquatic habitat, it is called the one where animals and plants develop in the aquifer environment, be it salty ocean waters (oceans, seas or lakes) or sweet inland waters (rivers, lakes, lagoons, groundwater, etc.). Depending on the incidence of abiotic factors, such as light intensity, currents, temperature, chemical composition, etc., the habitat will lead to living conditions for different types of organisms.

Habitat and ecological niche

Ecological niche is a concept of ecology that designates the place and function that within a habitat occupies each of the species that inhabit it. In this sense, the ecological niche refers to the living conditions of an organism or population according to its relationship with all factors, be biotic (food, be it animal or vegetable, and other species), abiotic (humidity, temperature, type of soil, altitude, etc.) or anthropic (action of man), in a given habitat.

For example, the rabbit’s niche includes what he eats, the organisms that feed on him, those that live with him or near him, as well as those with which he competes for survival. That is, the ecological niche includes all the interrelations that the organism can establish with the species with which it lives.

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