Habitat and Adaptation


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Livings things exist in most places of earth. Life exists in both extremely hot and extremely cold regions. Habitat of an organism is its immediate surroundings. Habitat is the home of the organism where it can find food, shelter and favourable conditions for breeding. Habitat includes both living and non-living components. Plants and animals possess special characters which help them to survive in their own habitat.

Types of habitat
Habitat can be terrestrial or aquatic.

  • Terrestrial habitat is further classified into forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains and polar regions.
  • Aquatic habitat can be classified into freshwater habitat, marine habitat and the coastal habitat.

Terrestrial habitat
It refers to the land where all plants and animals survive. Animals and plants which live on land are called as terrestrial animals and terrestrial plants. Animals and plants living on the land respire oxygen from air. They release carbon dioxide during this process. Terrestrial habitat includes forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains and polar regions.

a) Forests: These are large areas covered with trees and plants. Organisms living in the forest depend upon abiotic factors like air, availability of water, temperature, sunlight etc. Wild life in the forest include both plants and animals. All these organisms are interdependent on one and other. Plants can synthesise their own food and store in their body. Animals make use of this food for survival.
Three types of forests are tropical forests, temperate forests and boreal forests.
  • Tropical forests are known as Rain forests are the forests which occur between equator and the two tropics. The temperature is maintained between 20oC and 34oC. They receive rainfall throughout the year. Annual rainfall is about 200cm. Different types of flora and fauna occur in these forests.
  • Temperate forests occur in Northeast Asia, North America and Central Europe. Temperature ranges between -30oC to 30oC. Annual rainfall is about 150cm and is received throughout the year. Summer season is demarcated from winter season. Trees are deciduous trees.
  • Boreal forests are also called as Taiga forests. These forests are scattered over many places which include, China, Canada, Russia, Northern Japan etc. Temperature ranges between -50oC to 30oC. Annual snowfall ranges from 40 to 100 cm.

b) Grasslands: These are mainly covered by long and thick grasses. Temperature ranges between -20oC and 30oC. Annual rainfall they receive varies between 50cm and 90cm. Animals like zebra, giraffe, lion and elephant are prevalent.

c) Deserts: These are the areas that receive scanty rainfall. These are dry with sand covering the whole region. Deserts are mostly hot regions but some of them are even too cold regions. Temperatures are too high during day time and too low during night time. Annual rainfall is less than 25 cm. Animals like camel, rattle snake, kangaroo rat are found in deserts. Plants like cactus and thorny plants are prevalent.

d) Mountains: These regions are rocky and dry. Sometimes water occurs as flowing streams. Plants present on hills are xerophytes. These are conical and evergreen. Many climbers are found covering the huge trees. As the height of the mountain increases, temperatures fall down and animals are adapted to live in those cold conditions. Winds are dry and cold. Animals like Yak, bear, hill goats, flying fox are the examples.

e) Polar region: These regions are covered with high snowy peaks. Animals found here are adapted by having thick furry coat on the skin. They also have a layer of fat under the skin. This fat is used as reserved food during ice-cold winter. Animals like polar bears, seals, foxes are seen. Penguins are seen standing in the ice. Fish are adapted to live in ice-cold water.

Aquatic habitat
It refers to the region covered with water where plants and animals survive. Aquatic habitat is further divided into freshwater habitat, marine habitat and coastal habitat. Water is the medium for the organisms living in aquatic habitats.

a) Freshwater habitat: These are the water bodies filled with fresh water. These include rivers, lakes, ponds, streams etc. Water present has very low concentration of salts. Plants growing in water are called as hydrophytes.

b) Marine habitat: Ocean and seas are termed to be marine habitat. These are full with life. Different varieties of organisms exist in marine habitat. Organisms like, corals, shelled animals, sponges, jelly fish, sharks and many others are found in this habitat.

c) Coastal habitat: This is the region represented by the place where land meets the sea. Estuaries are formed when the saltwater mixes with freshwater. These habitats are unique Special type of trees called as mangroves are found in this region. Animals are also well adapted to live in these regions.

The ability of living organisms to adjust themselves to the surroundings is called as adaptation. Adaptations are the changes in structure or behaviour of an organism that will allow the organism to survive in that habitat. Plants and animals make some natural adjustments in some features to fit themselves into their environment. Different living organisms adapt themselves to their habitats in different ways. Adaptations can be brought about by changes in the body, changes in the behaviour and changes in location.

The ability of an organism to make small adjustments or changes in the body in a short period of time to adjust itself to the surrounding atmosphere is called acclimatisation. People who visit mountain ranges suffer from altitude sickness due to poor oxygen content in the atmosphere at such heights. Their body gets adjusted or acclimatised to changes in the surroundings.

Components of a habitat
The components in a habitat are broadly classified into two types, namely biotic and abiotic components. Biotic components interact with abiotic components to obtain all the necessary conditions.
  • Biotic components include all the livings organisms in a habitat, i.e. plants, animals and microorganisms.
  • Abiotic components include all the non-living things in a habitat, i.e. air, soil, water, sunlight and temperature. The favourable conditions for survival of living organisms are provided by abiotic components.

a) Air: Air is essential for all the living organisms on earth. Plants and animals take in oxygen from the air during respiration. Plants take in carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. Air also provides nitrogen which is fixed to the plants for utilisation. Air is required by organisms to cool their body. Winds help in generating energy. Winds also help in carrying the seeds for distant places.

b) Soil: Soil is the topmost layer of the earth. Soil is rich in minerals and microorganisms which help in different ways for plant growth. Soil also possess certain spaces which lodge water particles. This water lodged in the spaces is used by plants by the process of absorption.

c) Water: Three-fourths of our earth is covered with water. Water is essential for life. Water forms a medium for many metabolic reactions taking place inside the body. Water can be fresh water or marine water. Animals living in water are called as aquatic organisms. Plants specially living in water are called as hydrophytes. Humidity and rain are also the forms of water which help the living organisms.

d) Sunlight: Sun is the ultimate source of energy for all the living organisms on earth. Plants depend on sunlight for synthesising their food by the process of photosynthesis. Animals depend on plants for their food i.e. indirectly they depend on sunlight.

e) Temperature:Temperature at a place depends on the sunlight available at the particular place. Temperature also influences the humidity of that particular place. Areas may be too hot, moderate or too cool. Some animals hibernate during cool winter and some of them aestivate during hot summer.

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Activities & Simulations

Activity 1
Nps.gov has created an interesting and interactive animation to cover almost all the topics related to Habitat and Adaptation under the name'Our wild neighbours'. This activity is devised as a game to the student which allows him to select the options given at the bottom. For every option selected, a new activity is opened and allows the student to play. Additional information about food web, endangered species is also given. It also showsthe importance of wild life conservation.
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Activity 2
Pbs.org has constructed a small game to make students familiar with adaptations of penguin to cool polar regions. The information is split into small modules. At the starting of each module, student has to anwer a question. Whether the answer is right or wrong,  information about penguin is given on the slide. Every right answer secures points to the student making the penguin to dive easily into water. For wrong answer penguin is unable to dive into water.
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1 . What are the Similarities Between Living and Non-living Things?

Living andnon living

2 . Give an example of a non-living thing which exhibits any two characteristics of living things.


Cloud is a non-living thing which possesses few characteristics of living beings.
Actually to say all the forms...

3 . What is the difference between stimulus and reflex action ?


Stimulus is a change in the environment that excites the organism to respond to it.

4 . Cones

Trees mostly bear flowers as their reproductive organs. Some trees which bear cones instead of flowers are called as conifers....

5 . What are the different types of habitat? Give diagrams


A habitat is the natural home of a living organism. Different types of habitats are aquatic habitat and terrestrial hab...