Habitat Specialist

What is a habitat specialist?

Species vary in the range of habitat types they use. Some, like the grizzly bear, are habitat generalists that occupy a wide range of habitats and do not depend strongly on any one type. Habitat specialists, like the or the coeur d'alene salamander require a very specific habitat type for all or a critical part of their life cycle. When these particular habitats types are rare on the landscape or under great threat, these specialists tend to be at risk. Hotsprings, old lowland forest, bunchgrass and maritime meadows are examples of habitats that may be required by such specialists.

Requirements include:

  • the presence of sufficient specialized habitat on the landscape.
  • low levels of human disturbance (usually).

 (c) Brian Klinkenberg

Threats include:

  • loss and fragmentation of specialized habitats.
  • interruption of processes that create specialized habitats.


Protect habitats

  • Acquire specialized habitats by purchase or via dedication during land subdivision, development permit, or rezoning processes.
  • Require conservation covenants on specialized habitats during the land subdivision, development permit or rezoning processes.
Chilliwack lake, bc (c) Mike Pearson

Protect ecosystem processes that create/maintain habitats

  • Maintain natural fire frequencies on local government lands through controlled burns.
  • Maintain riparian reserve areas of adequate width to ensure integrity of aquatic habitat.
  • Maintain natural hydrographs (flood frequency) in watersheds.

Minimize human disturbance

  • Restrict access to specialized habitats on local government lands.
  • Keep development activities well away from habitats using the zoning, subdivision and development permit processes.
  • Include information on specialist species and their habitats in public education materials and programming.