A habitat is the natural place where a plant, an animal or any living organism lives. Habitats can be big like a whole forest, or small such as a leaf or twig.
A habitat has to provide everything necessary for survival. For living things to survive they need food, sunlight, water, shelter and safety and somewhere to reproduce.
A habitat is home to a whole community of plants and creatures that are specially adapted to live in a particular environment, for example in a stream or on a sand dune.
Each creature occupies a unique place within that environment and all the plants and creatures are dependent on each other.
Every habitat has a different group of plants and creatures that are associated with it. Some of the important habitats in the Harbour are saltmarsh, sand dunes, reedbeds, grassland, woodland, mudflats, seawater, shoreline and freshwater. Click each link to find out more.
Food, water and sunlight
In order to live, all living plants and creatures need food (nutrients) and water. They obtain these in many different ways.
Plants take up nutrients and water through their roots and also make food in their leaves by using sunlight through the process of photosynthesis.
Many creatures eat plants. They are called herbivores. Other creatures eat the herbivores. They are called carnivores. This makes a food chain.
When living things die, their dead bodies rot. There are a whole group of organisms, mainly insects, fungi and bacteria that act as “dustbin men” and recycle dead matter by eating it. This includes animal droppings!
Some creatures use fresh water from streams, lakes and rivers but those that live in the sea are adapted to deal with the salt in the water. If you live where freshwater and seawater mix, then it is even more difficult to survive.
Shelter, safety and reproduction
Survival is all about not getting eaten, or dying due to bad weather (e.g.drought, flooding, wind or frost), at least until the organism has had some offspring.
So plants produce seeds and animals have babies – but the young must be sheltered and looked after or produced in such quantity that at least one or two may live long enough to complete the life cycle and reproduce themselves. A habitat provides shelter and a place to reproduce.