Definition of Habitat and Habitat Patch

For most species, the environment is heterogeneous at various spatial and temporal scales (Figure 1). A habitat can be defined by a given type of environment characterized by general physical features (e.g., type of vegetation, water, or soil structures). The habitat of a species can also be defined by the general characteristics of the areas used by individuals, which must be suitable enough for the species' activities. This definition results from the observed spatial distribution of individuals. Finally, at a finer scale, a habitat can also be defined by the portion of the environment devoted to a particular activity of individuals (e.g., breeding or foraging). Usually, the term 'habitat' does not encompass conspecifics, that is, the social components of individuals' activities, contrary to the term 'environment'. A habitat patch can be defined as a continuous and homogeneous portion of a habitat (Figure 1).

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