What is a habitat?
In ecology, a habitat is described as a type of natural environment in which a particular species of organism lives. It is characterized by both physical and biological features. A species' habitat refers to those places where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction.
Every organism has certain habitat based needs for the conditions to thrive. While some are quite tolerant of wide variations while others are very specific in their requirements. A habitat is not necessarily a geographical area, it can be the interior of a stem or a log, a rock or a clump of moss, and for a parasitic organism it is the body of its host, part of the host's body such as the digestive tract, or a single cell within the host's body.
Difference between a habitat & a biotope
The word "habitat" is in use since 1755 and derives its roots from the Latin word “habitare”, meaning to inhabit, from habitare, to have or to hold. Habitat can be defined as the natural environment of an organism; the type of place in which it is natural for it to live and grow. It is similar in meaning to a biotope; an area of uniform environmental conditions associated with a particular community of plants and animals.
Physical factors of a habitat:
The physical factors are fsoil, moisture, temperature range, and light intensity as well as biotic factors such as the availability of food and the presence or absence of predators.
Types of Habitat
Habitat types can be categorized as polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical. The terrestrial vegetation type may be forest, steppe, grasslands, semi-arid or desert. Fresh water habitats include marshes, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and estuaries, and marine habitats, include salt marshes, the coast, the sea bed, reefs, bays, the intertidal zone, the open sea, deep water and submarine vents.
What are micro habitats?
A micro-habitat is the small-scale physical requirements of a particular organism or a population of an organism. Every habitat includes large numbers of micro-habitats with subtly different exposure to light, humidity, temperature, air movement, and other factors.
There are numerous different micro-habitats in a wood; coniferous forest, broad-leafed forest, open woodland, scattered trees, clearings and glades; tree trunk, woodland verges, branch, twig, bud, leaf, flowers and fruits; rough/ smooth/damaged bark, groove and hole; rotten wood, hollow, plant layer, canopy, shrub layer, leaf litter and soil; buttress root, stump, fallen log, stem base, grass tussock, fungus, fern and moss.
Do habitats remain same throughout?
No. Habitats change with the passage of time. This may be a resultant of an earthquake; volcanic eruption; a tsunami, a wildfire or a change in oceanic currents; or something more gradual over millennia with alterations in the climate, as ice sheets and glaciers advance and retreat, and as different weather patterns bring changes of precipitation and solar radiation. Other changes can be the consequencesof human activities like deforestation; ploughing of ancient lands; dams and channels for the rivers; draining of marshland or dredging of the seabed. Even the introduction of alien species can have a devastating effect on native bio-diversity, as the native species have no immunity.
Why a habitat needs to be protected?
Do you know why national parks, and sanctuaries have been set up? Well, you will know it now.
The protection of habitats is a necessary step in the process of protecting and maintaining thebiodiversity because when habitat destruction occurs, the animals and plants reliant on that habitat suffer immensly. Remember, all of them, including us are a part of the ecological cycle and balance. Many countries have enacted legislations to protect their wildlife. And, this may take the form of the setting up of national parks, forest reserves and wildlife reserves. It may also restrict the activities of humans with the objective of benefiting wildlife like poaching, or hunting for animal skin and horns. The laws may also be designed to protect a particular species or group of species, or prohibit threatening activities like collecting bird eggs or the removal of plants. Hence, a general law on the protection of habitats may be more difficult to implement than one with a site-specific requirement. A concept was introduced in the United States in 1973, which involves protecting the critical habitat of endangered species, and a similar concept has been incorporated into some Australian legislation.
International treaties may be necessary for such protection objectives as the setting up of marine reserves. Another international agreement, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals protects animals that migrate across the globe, and need protection in more than one country. However, the protection of habitats needs to be taken into account considering the the needs of the local residents for food, fuel and other resources as the lack of enforcement often prevents effective protection.
World Habitat Day
The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.
When is it celebrated? First Monday of October, every year. This time it is on 1st October.
Theme: 2018 theme: Municipal Solid Waste Management
The main event of this day will be held in Nairobi, Kenya on 1 October 2018.
The focus of this year's World Habitat Day is on taking action to address the municipal solid waste management challenge. This year's theme is Municipal Solid Waste Management with slogan Waste wise cities. On 1 October 2018, and in the period before and after this day, a concrete effort will be made to:
l Raise awareness that Municipal solid waste is a global challenge that all of us need to address
l Facilitate policy dialogue and form partnerships
l Promote innovative solutions to municipal solid waste management
l Mobilize resources to address the municipal solutions to municipal solid waste management
l Mobilize resources to address the municipal solid waste challenges