The Physical Environment
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Within a habitat, organisms "occupy" a niche. A niche is the function or occupation, of a life-form within a community. An organism's niche incorporates the physical (habitat), chemical, and biological factors that maintains the health and vitality of the organism. An organism's interaction with the abiotic factors of its environment (heat and moisture) defines its niche. The food requirements, and those that prey on it, are part of the organism's niche. A niche, therefore, is the sum of an organism's physiological adaptation to, and interaction with, its physical environment.

The variation of life determines the biodiverisity of an ecosystem. The biodiversity of an ecosystem reflects the variety and abundance of plant and animal species within it. It includes the variety of habitat types with a landscape that support life. Watch the video "Why Biodiversity Matters" to appreciate our dependence of biodiversty.

Watch Why Biodiversity Matters.
Courtesy of the David Suzuki Foundation

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For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
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