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A video looking at changes in animal habitats around the world, showing how these creatures are responding to changing temperatures and precipitation patterns.


A habitat is a place where a plant or animal lives, a kind of home base where conditions are uniquely suited to meet all of their needs. Habitats have these special characteristics:

  • There is enough food in the area and it is the right kind of food.
  • There is enough water in the area and it is the kind the animal or plant needs.
  • There is enough space for individual animals and populations of animals to grow and behave normally.
  • There is enough cover and shelter to protect the animal and allow them to breed and rear their offspring.

In their selected habitat, plants and animals also enjoy an optimal climate: the patterns of temperatures and precipitation are those that suit each living thing.

Most animals and plants are adapted to live in only one environment. However. There are some animals that thrive in multiple habitats. For example, Arctic seals live in two habitats: in the frigid ocean and on ice floes throughout the region.

Changes to habitat can come abruptly or gradually. Natural disasters such as hurricanes or wild fires can change a habitat overnight, causing plants and animals to be destroyed or forced to move to other habitats at great risk. Animals and plants can sometimes adapt to gradual habitat changes. Over time, members of the species who have evolved to meet a challenge in the habitat have a better chance of living and passing that characteristic on to their offspring.

The problem occurs when habitat change happens rapidly, as is occurring today in response to temperature and precipitation pattern shifts around the world. Some animals have the capacity to respond quickly to these changes, but many do not.

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Learning Objective
After viewing this video, students will be able to explain how changes in temperature, precipitation, and habitat distribution change animal and plant distribution, including that of the mosquito.
Standards Addressed
Can be used with existing lesson plans on
Habitats and ecosystems; ecology; adaptation vs. evolution
Additional ways to use this asset to enrich your curriculum

Nature vs. Nurture After students view this video, involve them in this discussion: When an environment changes, plants and animals who live in that environment face three outcomes:

  • As a group, they can change genetically by adapting to their new habitat.
  • They can respond individually through a process called phenotypic plasticity.
  • They can respond by moving to other areas that replicate their old environment or they can die.
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