INHABIT project

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Habitat in a nutshell

Habitat of an organism (or population) can be conceived as the physical location where the organism lives or where it can be found, even temporarily. In terms of spatial scale, an entire river ecosystem may itself be an "habitat" and include a large number of smaller habitats, identifiable to gradually smaller spatial scales. Also with reference to a single species, an habitat is “an environment defined by specific abiotic and biotic factors, in which the species lives at any stage of its biological cycle” Habitat Directive (Art. 1, f).

To its effective representation, habitat must be characterized at least at the following spatial scales: microhabitat (i.e. up to about 1 m), mesohabitats (from 1 to a few tens of meters) and macrohabitat (more than ≈ 50 m extension). Furthermore, according to detail purposes, information associated to a given feature may be used in different ways, either individually or in combination with others, within specific descriptors dedicated to characterize various aspects of habitat.