March 16, 2004

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Habitat Sweet Habitat

Raccoon HabitatWhat is a habitat?
A habitat is a special place where a plant or animal calls home. Just like you have a home or place to live, so do animals and plants. When we talk about an animal or a plant's home it is more like a neighborhood than a "house." An animal needs four things to survive in its habitat—food, water, shelter, and a place to raise its young. Just like you have to go to the store to get food, an animal leaves its "shelter" to get the things they need to live. If the population's needs aren't met, it will move to a better habitat.

Working Together

There are many plants and animals that will share the same habitat. The animals and plants that live together in a habitat form a "community." The community of living things interacts with the non-living world around it to form the ecosystem.

Because resources like water and food may be limited, plant and animal species often compete with each other for food and water. The only way that they can all live together is if they occupy slightly different niches or hold different "jobs" in the community. No two species can occupy exactly the same niche. They all have their own jobs or niche in the community.

Otter jobA niche is the smallest unit of a habitat that is occupied by a plant or animal. The habitat niche is the physical space occupied by the plant or animal. The ecological niche is the role the plant or animal plays in the community found in the habitat.

There are lots of different habitat types on Earth. Habitat examples could include lakes, streams, forests, or even a drop of water. All habitats on the Earth are part of the biosphere. Because the Earth is always changing, habitats are constantly changing. Habitats that have similar climate and plants are called biomes.

For more information on how plants and animals interact in the ecosystem, check out our Ecology page!

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Ecology Facts
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Habitat Links

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Ecology Links

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