What is the distinction between habitat and environment?

habitat and environment


Everything which surrounds us may be referred to as the environment. Habitat is the natural home or environment of a plant, animal, or another organism. It is a specific space located in the environment, therefore they are interrelated. Here is a discussion of what is the distinction between habitat and environment.

Habitat and environment both are important terms in ecology. The environment has a profound effect on human life. Physical constitution, food, clothing, culture, way of life- everything is controlled by this environment. The environment is mainly created by human beings.

Man builds his natural habitat in the environment. A habitat is an ecological zone or environment where certain species of animals, plants, or other species live. Like humans, other organisms are also affected by the environment. The changes in the environment may benefit or harm man’s habitat.

Sometimes the environment is used as a synonym for habitat, for example, the natural environment for giraffes is grazing land. So there are some relationships between the habitat and environment. Before discussing the distinction between habitat and environment, some detailed information about them is described here (1) & (3).


The environment is the circumstances or conditions that surround an organism or group of organisms. All the things people see around them are their environment. It has a number of life zones that support the birth and development of all types of organisms. The environment mainly gives an idea about the organism and its natural habitat (5).


The word “environment” is a very wide term. This word is derived from the French word “environner”, which means to ‘encircle’ or ‘surround’. This word includes all physical and biological worlds, in which biological beings live, grow, get nourished and develop their natural characteristics.


The environment is the sum of all biological, economical, physical, and chemical components that constitute the surrounding of living organisms.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1992) defines the environment as: “Environment is the sum of the outdoor conditions that affect the flora and fauna.

According to C. C. Park, “Environment refers to the sum total of conditions which surround man at a given point in space and time” (1) & (6).

Component of the environment

The environment consists mainly of two components.

1. Biotic component

Biotic components refer to the living components of the environment. They can be shifted from one place to another. These components are primary producers, carnivorous, omnivorous, herbivorous, etc.

2. Abiotic component

These components are the non-living components of the environment. They cannot move from one place to another. Climate, soil, sunlight, water bodies, space, topography, and weather are the abiotic components of the environment.


The environment can be divided into two main parts based on natural differences and basic structures.  These are the natural environment or physical environment and cultural or manmade environment. There was no such thing as a cultural environment before humans came to earth. Everything was a natural environment.

The natural environment was not conducive to human beings everywhere and always. So the cultural environment is the environment that man has created by changing the natural environment as needed and conveniently by the application of scientific techniques.

1. Physical environment

The physical environment is the creation of nature. This environment has been created before the creators were born on earth. Fauna has no role in creating the natural environment. The elements of this environment are geographical location, topography, climate, soil, water bodies with rivers, natural plants, minerals, etc.

2. Man-made environment or cultural environment

The role of nature in creating such an environment is secondary. These are man-made. Man creates such an environment for his own needs. The elements of this environment are society, religion, education, politics, business, etc. (6).


The habitat is home and is grouped together to form an ecosystem. The term comes up when ecologists refer to living organisms and their environment. It surrounds a population of one species, and also determines the distribution of a particular species. Habitat is located in certain areas of the earth’s terrestrial and aquatic region.


The term habitat is widely used in ecology. This word comes from the Latin word “habitare” which means to live or to inhabit.


A place where an organism or a community of organisms naturally lives and grows is known as Habitat. It acts as an environment where a species can live and thrive. Habitats are formed by the abiotic factors of an environment. It is an environment or place in which one or more species of organisms survive on the basis of natural, chemical, and relative conditions (5).


1. White bears, white foxes, lemming dogs, tiny algae, etc. form the natural habitat of the polar region,

2. The natural habitat of camels, desert foxes, etc. is the desert region, and

3. Tropical rainforests are the natural habitat of snakes, termites, bees, chameleons, and various types of orchids (1) & (3).

Classification of habitat

Habitats are mainly divided into two types.

1. Based on size and shape

  • Micro habitat
  • Macro habitat
  • Meso habitat
  • Mega habitat

2. Based on the type of location

  • Terrestrial habitat
  • Freshwater habitat
  • Estuary habitat
  • Ocean habitat (4).

Some interesting features about habitat

1. A habitat is an ecological zone where certain species of animals, plants, or other species live.

2. The organisms living in the habitat interact with each other.

3. It is an ecological zone where certain species of animals, plants, or other species live.

4. Habitat contains many ecological niches.

5. It supports a variety of species.

6. The four main factors of habitat are Water, food, shelter, and space.

7. Some organisms in the environment have multiple habitats. For example, cheetahs, foxes, deer, etc. live in tropical rainforests, temperate rainforests, and Polar Regions.

8. Here organisms make their own home.

9. The area of habitat ranges from a few square centimeters to million square kilometers.

10. It fulfills all the environmental conditions an organism needs to survive (2) & (3).

Distinction between habitat and environment

The environment is everything that surrounds us. This environment around us constitutes a life support system. Through a process of natural selection and elimination, it is the environment only that has caused the evolution of the biological spectrum.

On the other hand, a habitat is a particular space in the environment where a certain species formed their own home. Habitat and environment are interrelated. But there are few differences between them. This is discussed below.




1. Meaning The habitat means to live or to inhabit. The environment to ‘encircle’ or ‘surround’.
2. Definition Habitat is the natural home of a plant, animal, or another organism. The environment is the state in which the organic, inorganic, and cultural elements interact to protect the birth, growth, existence, etc. of an organism.
3. Consist of The habitat consists of many ecological niches. The environment consists of many biotic and abiotic factors.
4. Number of species Different types of species can live in one habitat. Numerous species of organisms and non-living objects are present in an environment.
5. Area The area of habitat ranges from a few square centimeters to a million square kilometers. The area of an environment is bigger than the habitat’s area. Environment extends from a few hundred million square kilometers to a thousand million square kilometers.
6. Life cycle of species A species can occupy more than one habitat. There are different types of species that can occupy an environment. The environment is the place where all these creatures are born and grow. This is where their life cycle ends.
7. Type Habitats are always built by humans. Nature has no role in this. The environment is mainly created by nature. However, sometimes man-made environments develop. So the environment is two types- physical environment and man-made environment.
8. Performance A habitat is made by a species, so it is always a performance of one species. An environment could be a performance of various species that could finally become many habitats.
9. Represent It represents the address of an organism. An environment represents the address of organisms, plants, and various non-living substances.
10. Presence of living and non-living things Living things are only present in a habitat. On the other hand, both living and non-living things are present in the environment.
11. Species survive A certain species can survive a certain habitat. Various species can survive in more than one environment.
12. Number of trophic levels Since a certain species lives in a habitat, it contains only a few trophic levels. There are different types of organisms present in the environment. So it contains all the trophic levels.
13. Indicates Habitat indicates the interaction between an organism or a community of organisms who naturally live and grow in the habitat. It indicates the interaction between physical, chemical, and biological components (3) & (6).

Written By: Manisha Bharati