The environment provides living things with everything that is necessary to survive such as nutrients in the soil, water and sunlight. Around the world environments change from a range of different extremes which affects what animals and plants can survive, and leads to a huge range of different adaptations of species found in different locations.
A range of environmental and climatic variables such as temperature, wind exposure, rainfall, sunlight, nutrient availability make no two areas the same. Because different environments are better suited for different species this means that the plants, animals and all other living things like bacteria and fungi, will differ in every part of the world.
Around 21% of the Earth’s surface is exposed land which can be split into a range of different environments that vary due to differences in their climates. Environments on land can be both very hospitable and extremely tough places to live.
Earth is often referred to as the blue planet because seas and oceans cover more than 75% of the Earth’s surface, making marine environments the most common habitat on Earth. Life evolved in the oceans and many species never left.
Freshwater is one of the most important substances for life on Earth and with its absence many environments would be almost void of life. Of the Earth’s 1.4 billion km3 of water, only 2.5% is freshwater and 80% of that is locked up as ice.
Ecology is a field of science that studies how plants, animals and microorganisms are affected by one another, and how they effect and are affected by their environments. Ecologists seek to understand how nature works.
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