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Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples

Any individual of any animal species that inhabits our planet survives, grows and reproduces in its particular ecosystem, always within limits. That’s why in ecology, when we talk about these organisms and the environment in which they live, we use the terms of habitat and ecological niche. Both terms refer to different things, but often, they are synonymous terms for people in general.

What is the habitat of a species

Habitat is defined as the physical place occupied by the organism itself and is a definition widely used to define where a species is located. In turn, the habitat of an organism is characterized by conditions within certain limits and resources. When selecting their habitat, the species choose the most appropriate or the one that allows their survival. Thus, the habitat occupied by a given organism depends on what it is able to colonize and disperse .

What is the ecological niche of a species

The ecological niche is the strategy that a certain species uses to survive in that habitat or ecosystem, that is, its way of obtaining food, establishing competencies with other species, hunting or escaping from predators. In summary, the ecological niche is a functional definition of the place a species occupies within the habitat in which they live. Within this definition, the influence of different environmental conditions and the presence of other species on the aforementioned factors is also taken into account.

The effective niche or real ecological niche is differentiated as all the conditions and resources that allow a population to remain viable in that ecosystem despite the presence of predators and other competitors, that is, taking into account the interactions with other species and the niche fundamental or ecological potential as one that only takes into account the potentialities of a species, without considering interactions with other species, for example, in the case of food, only considers what species is capable of feeding.

 

Today in Green Ecology we clarify the difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples of each.

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Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples

By Javier Sánchez , Biologist. 8 March 2018
Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples

Any individual of any animal species that inhabits our planet survives, grows and reproduces in its particular ecosystem, always within limits. That’s why in ecology, when we talk about these organisms and the environment in which they live, we use the terms of habitat and ecological niche. Both terms refer to different things, but often, they are synonymous terms for people in general.

Today in Green Ecology we clarify the difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples of each.

You may also be interested in: Endemic species: definition and examples

What is the habitat of a species

Habitat is defined as the physical place occupied by the organism itself and is a definition widely used to define where a species is located. In turn, the habitat of an organism is characterized by conditions within certain limits and resources. When selecting their habitat, the species choose the most appropriate or the one that allows their survival. Thus, the habitat occupied by a given organism depends on what it is able to colonize and disperse .

What is the ecological niche of a species

The ecological niche is the strategy that a certain species uses to survive in that habitat or ecosystem, that is, its way of obtaining food, establishing competencies with other species, hunting or escaping from predators. In summary, the ecological niche is a functional definition of the place a species occupies within the habitat in which they live. Within this definition, the influence of different environmental conditions and the presence of other species on the aforementioned factors is also taken into account.

The effective niche or real ecological niche is differentiated as all the conditions and resources that allow a population to remain viable in that ecosystem despite the presence of predators and other competitors, that is, taking into account the interactions with other species and the niche fundamental or ecological potential as one that only takes into account the potentialities of a species, without considering interactions with other species, for example, in the case of food, only considers what species is capable of feeding.

Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples - What is the ecological niche of a species

Habitat and ecological niche: differences

According to this definition, a habitat can be inhabited by individuals of different species, but each of them will have a certain ecological niche, which is unique. Thus, for example, in the same habitat, pollinators, scavengers, those that perform photosynthesis, decomposers, etc. can be distinguished.

However, two species can enter interspecific competition when they occupy very similar or equal ecological niches. For example, one of the problems of invasive species is that, when they are established in an ecosystem, they sometimes begin to compete with other native species for the same ecological niche, thus being able to displace them and thus affecting other individuals that live in that ecosystem, producing in this way an imbalance in natural ecosystems .

ecological niche

  • Anaconda verde ( Eunectes murinus ): Inhabits in the humid tropical rainforests of South America as the Amazon rainforest and occupies its niche as an omnivorous predator in soils and flooded areas.
  • Bactrian Camel ( Bactrianus Camels ): It lives in very arid areas of the Asian continent and occupies its niche as a herbivore, although it has also been domesticated.
  • European Robin ( Erithacus rubecula ): lives in spruce forests, parks and gardens in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa and occupies its niche by feeding on small invertebrates, berries or seeds.
  • Earthworm ( Terrestrial Lumbricus ): inhabits the earth and occupies its niche as decomposers, improving the quality of the soil through its perforations and serving as food for other species.
  • Blue whale ( Balaenoptera musculus ): lives in cold waters of the Arctic, Indian and Pacific and occupies its niche as a filter feeder, feeding on crustaceans such as Kirll. It has no predators (except man).
  • Krill ( Meganyctiphanes norvegica ): It inhabits the oceans of Antarctica and occupies its niche by feeding on phytoplankton and microscopic algae. In addition, it forms the basis of many trophic chains.
  • Panda bear ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ): It lives in mountainous regions of Asia, mainly China, at 3500 meters. It occupies its niche feeding on bamboo (mostly), although it can also eat fish, insects or small mammals. Where he lives he has no predators or competition.
  • Emperor penguin ( Aptenodytes fosteri): its habitat is the waters and lands of Antarctica and occupies its niche feeding on fish, tiny crustaceans and squid. It is also prey to other animals.

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