8 Types of Habitats

Written by Jude Speegle
Published: May 10, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/scgerding
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You may know that a habitat is the natural home of an organism, but we’ll delve a little bit deeper and explore some of the different types that exist. A habitat is an area where animals, plants and other organisms grow and a diverse ecosystem where specific systems thrive. Within their habitat, organisms can find all they need to survive.

There are numerous diversified habitats, but we’ll focus on 8 types of habitats in this article. Together, we’ll learn about various habitats and the creatures that make their homes in these places.

These 8 habitats Include:

  1. Desert
  2. Forest
  3. Grassland
  4. Savanna
  5. Scrubland
  6. Subterranean 
  7. Wetlands
  8. Marine 

Discussing habitat types and the specific ecosystems they offer are essential for understanding the ecology of this planet. 

Knowing about habitats can significantly change how you act and treat the world we live in, which is essential to make sure you have the smallest impact on the habitat.

As dictated by Conservation Biology, the true definition of habitat can be defined as the physical and biological surroundings of an organism, or sites having appropriate features required by a species for survival and reproduction. 

Now armed with this necessary knowledge, let us explore the eight different types of habitats listed here.

Desert Habitat

Desert habitats cover a huge chunk of our planet and get very little rain.

Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com

The first habitat we will explore is the desert. More than one-third of our planet is covered in deserts, so understanding a desert habitat is crucial to understanding how habitats work. 

A desert has less than 20 inches of rain per year, which averages to about three or four days of rain a year out of 365. Isn’t that wild?

Deserts can be a rough place to live in, with plants and animals that have adapted over the years to survive in the harsh, dry climate. That’s what makes it a habitat, as it has all it needs for the animals to survive while also being its ecosystem.

Deserts consist of:

  • Low scrub plants
  • Cacti
  • Reptiles
  • Spiders
  • Owls
  • Foxes
  • Vultures

Those are just a few types of plants and animals that make their home in a desert habitat. They have all evolved to survive in a harsh landscape with very little water.

Forest Habitat

Forest habitats have three different types, boreal, temperate, and tropical.

BorneoRimbawan/Shutterstock.com

The three main types of forest habitats are:

  • Boreal– where there are freezing temperatures more than half of the year
  • Temperate– covers 25% of the earth’s forests, average temperatures
  • Tropical– where there are hot temperatures more than half of the year

Each forest habitat has many distinct levels. Each level thrives in its necessary way and contributes overall to the habitat. Levels that make up a forest habitat are:

  • Forest Floor– branches, leaves, dirt, and fallen fruit break down and make up the ground.
  • Shrub Layer– larger plants like bushes.
  • Understory– these are still growing trees, not fully grown mature ones.
  • Canopy– The treetops where all the branches and leaves extend outward.
  • Overstory– this is above the canopy and is usually just made up of the tallest trees and plants.

Forest habitats are home for many familiar animals, including mammals, reptiles, birds, insects and more.

Grassland Habitat

Grassland habitats have low amounts of nutrients in the soil from lack of rain, so not a lot grows.

Isn’t it interesting how habitats are dependent on water in different ways? In a grassland habitat, they receive more rain than a desert, of course, but not more rain than a forest. 

This leads to vegetation growing lower and closer to the ground, where you get lands made mostly of grass and small shrubs.

Grassland habitats are known to not have a lot of nutrients in the soil, which can also keep more diverse plants from growing. Along with that, the lack of steady rain keeps the lands dry and prone to fires breaking out.

Grass being the main product of grassland habits mean grass grazers are common, such as deer or rabbits. These animals may also frequent other habitats but make their mark in grasslands.

Other animals that may be found in grassland habitats include:

  • Cheetahs
  • Ferrets
  • Skunks
  • Groundhogs
  • Tortoises

Savanna Habitat

Often flat expanse with crops of trees, savanna habitats can be home to animals like lions and rhinoceros.

Savannas are another type of habitat that is quite similar to grasslands. They often get grouped together even though there are subtle differences between the two.

The soil really cannot support larger plants when it comes to grasslands. There also isn’t enough rain to help keep a tree sated and healthy. There are often groups of trees and other taller plants spread out in savannas, along with watering holes.

Savannas also include small forests that they fade into or out of, while with grasslands this is not the case.

Animals that are known to make their homes in savannas are:

  • Lions
  • Rabbits
  • Antelope
  • Rhinoceros
  • Cheetah
  • Hyenas
  • Giraffes
  • Bison
  • Tigers
  • Elephants

The animals which make their homes in savannas are similar to those in grasslands, though they have a wider variety because they have a more accessible and livable habitat.

Since savannah habitats can support a wider variety of vegetation and animals, they tend to be more populated.

Scrub Habitat

western scrub jay eating on a post
Animals like this Western scrub jay are well-adapted to living in scrublands

Scrub habitats, also call scrubland, shrub or brush habitats maintain a fascinating and diverse culture. Did you know that controlled burns are necessary for scrub habitats to survive and not turn into forest-type habitats?

Fire and extreme heat pop out seeds from pinecones to make pine trees and help refresh the shrubbery and grasses so that they don’t grow too tall. Fires can kill more mature trees as well, so that what remains continues to support the animals that live there.

Scrub/shrub habitats consist of:

  • Grasses
  • Flowers
  • Shrubs
  • Scrub
  • Sand
  • Younger plants
  • Trees 

Scrub habitats can have nutrient-rich soils and diverse animals living among them. Like the Florida scrub jay, some animals are endangered and native only to these habitats. 

That means controlled burns are essential to keep their homes so that plants don’t grow too large and ruin their food sources.

Subterranean Habitat

Animals That Molt - Burrowing Owl
Subterranean habitats are underground in both caves and elsewhere.

Mauricio S Ferreira/Shutterstock.com

Since they are underground and unseen, subterranean habitats often get overlooked as habitats. Caves might be your first thought when it comes to subterranean habitats, but there are also burrows for mammals and other animals.

Cave habitats don’t have a lot growing in them, mostly moss or lichens, and animals that live inside them thrive from the water that seeps down into the earth.

Burrow-type subterranean habitats can exist in soil and sand. Burrowing owls are a species of owl that lives in burrows in the desert. Snakes, ferrets, mice, lemmings, vole, and more live in burrows below the ground, as do many other reptiles and mammals.

Animals that live and grow within subterranean habitats have a unique skill. These animals can travel both backward and forwards easily, without any of the struggles we as humans may have to attempt to traverse tunnels.

This adaptation is part of what helps them survive in their unique subterranean habitats.

Wetlands Habitat

Wetlands habitats are home to many animals, including large birds, alligators, turtles, and more

iStock.com/Robert DelVecchio – OcuDrone

Wetland habitats are prevalent in places like Florida, which are also home to scrub and forest habitats. Isn’t it exciting how many places can have such diverse ecosystems?

Wetland habitats are:

  • Bogs
  • Swamps
  • Lakes
  • Marshes
  • Ferns

These include both freshwater and saltwater wetland habitats. The Florida Everglades is one of the most extensive wetlands left in the continental United States, and they are still being infringed upon over time. 

Humans take up space wherever we take up residence, and since we can place houses in most habitats, we force unnatural erosion. 

We drain swamps and wetlands to make the space habitable, which forces out all sorts of animal and plant species, giving them nowhere to go.

Animals that make their homes in wetlands include:

  • Shrews
  • Beavers
  • Alligators
  • Voles
  • Many types of birds
  • Frogs
  • Salamanders
  • Turtles
  • Snails
  • Grouse

The wildlife in wetlands habitats is diverse and countless.

Marine Habitat

There are four main types of marine habitat; deep sea, intertidal zone, mangroves, and reefs.

Strelyuk/Shutterstock.com

If it isn’t apparent, marine habitats cover a whole realm of diverse ecosystems. There are oceanic habitats, river habitats, lake habitats, and then you would add saltwater habitats versus freshwater habitats.

Marine habitats include more than just the obvious bodies of water. They encompass mangroves, estuaries, mudflats, reefs, the deep sea, and more.

Marine life includes various fish, dolphins and whales. Everything from shrimp, snails, plankton and crabs to birds and turtles. There is an endless array of life to see in marine habitats if only we had the time and ability to explore it all.

The planet earth has a captivating and eclectic array of life spread across it. Humans live in all the accessible habitats. So, subterranean habitats and deep-sea marine habitats have been able to maintain some mystery. All of these 8 types of habitats are home to diverse life forms and intricate, resilient, and yet sometimes fragile ecosystems. The more we know about them, the more we can understand how to coexist and support these unique environments.

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats. The birds are named Scoresby, George Michael, and Ketchup Packet. The cats are named Theo, Oatmeal, and Polly.

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