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Habitats and Communities Overview

The core of the Grade 4 program deals with introducing students to the concept of Habitats and Communities.

What is a habitat?

Herd of wildebeest and zebras in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa

The following PowerPoint presentation will help you introduce the main concepts of Habitats and Communities to your students.

Download Habitats and Communities Introduction .pptx Presentation

A habitat is a special place where a plant or animal lives. Just like you have a home or place to live, so do animals and plants. When we talk about an animal’s or a plant’s home it is more like a neighborhood than a “house.” An animal needs three things to survive in its habitat:

  • food
  • water
  • shelter

Different animals require different amounts of space. Habitats can be big like a forest, or they can be much smaller, like a burrow. Some animals defend a huge territory or roam over a large area. Other animals need only a small amount of space and can put up with neighbors that live close to them.

Different animals need different habitats. A fish, for example, needs clean water in which to live. A grasshopper, however, needs a big space where it can hop and leaves that it can eat.

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 niches They all have their own jobs or niche in the community.

A 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 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.

So What’s A Critical Habitat?

When a species is threatened, or becomes near extinct, it becomes important to protect their habitat. Certain areas become designated a “critical habitat” and are protected by laws to prevent killing, removing or bothering those species so that they can produce young and continue to thrive.

The grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park were once on the endangered species list. But through protection of their habitat and efforts to make sure that they could survive, they have increased in numbers and are now no longer in danger.

grow a treeTrees and forests are one of the most important habitats. They are necessary components of almost every animal community on the planet!  By planting a tree, you are creating habitat for thousands of animals that form the community of animals in your area!

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