Difference Between Habitat and Ecosystem

Habitat vs Ecosystem

Habitat and ecosystem are two different components of ecology, but both those are found in one place. An ecosystem contains many habitats, and that explains the relationship between these two components in brief. In other words, habitat is the home inside the village of ecosystem. These two entities have different characteristics and those are particularly important to understand.


Habitat, by definition, is the environmental or the ecological area being inhabited by any organism. In other words, habitat is the natural environment in which an animal, a plant, or any other organism occupies. Habitat surrounds a population of one species, and it determines the distribution of a particular species. An organism or a population naturally prefers to live in a particular environment, which is full of resources for them, and that environment becomes their habitat eventually. It could be a water body, a certain area of the water column, bark of a tree, inside the leaf litter of a rain forest, a cave, or the interior of an animal. That means a habitat could be any place with an energy or nutrient source for the organism or the entire population depending on their requirements. The main limiting factors of habitats are the abundance of food/energy and threats (e.g. predators, competitors). Therefore, these factors limit the distribution and occupancy of a particular species or population. However, the habitat is the place where an animal or plant simply lives in nature. Depending on the number of species in an ecosystem, the number of habitats changes accordingly.


Ecosystem is the whole unit of biological and physical entities of certain, defined area or a volume. The size of an ecosystem could vary from a bark of a dead tree up to a massive rain forest or the ocean. A small fish tank is also an ecosystem, but it is an artificial ecosystem. An ecosystem could be either natural or manmade. However, the natural ecosystems last forever, as there are self-sustaining mechanisms. Ecosystem is mainly composed of communities, which are combinations of populations. Usually, a typical ecosystem contains producers, primary consumers (herbivores), secondary and tertiary consumers (mostly omnivores and carnivores), scavengers, and decomposers. Ecosystem is formed if these components are present, which encompasses the energy cycling, in a particular place. Organisms will fit into the available niches by finding proper habitats and living in a preferred environment. If that particular place could sustain the life without being diminished, the place can eventually become an ecosystem. A collection of ecosystems make a biome, and all the biomes collectively form the biosphere of the Earth.

What is the difference between Habitat and Ecosystem?

• One Ecosystem could contain many habitats, but not the other way around.

• An ecosystem is always larger than a habitat.

• A collection of habitats make an ecosystem eventually, but a collection of ecosystems make the large unit of biomes.

• One habitat contains one or few species, whereas one ecosystem contains a very large number of species.

• A habitat contains only few trophic levels, but an ecosystem contains all the trophic levels.