What is mean by ecological niche ? Write a note on its type.
- The term niche is used in the science of ecological biology to define the role of an organism in an ecosystem. Not only does the niche contain the environment in which a particular organism lives, but it also contains the “work” of the organism in that environment.
- A niche can also include what the organism eats, how it interacts with other living (biotic) elements, and also how it interacts with the non-living (abiotic) aspects of the environment.
- Though the term niche was first used by Grinnel (1971) to explain micro habitats.
- Ecological niche : Elton (1927) defined the ecological niche as “An ecological niche refers to animal’s place in the biotic environment and its relation to its food and enemies or its functional role in an ecosystem.
- Ecological niche is the more inclusive term which involves not merely the place occupied which by the organism but also its functional role, in the community.
- The concept of ecological niche is related to that of habitat. However, this can and should not be confused with this. The intestinal tract, for example, is the habitat of a parasite. This is where the parasite lives.
- The ecological niche is the set of conditions that this parasite tolerates and demands. This group of conditions consists of different aspects that can be physical, chemical and biological. In the case of the parasite it can include the following:
● Temperature range where the parasite works well and reproduces.
● types of food eaten by the host that can be used by him.
● species of micro-organisms with which it interacts, which provide benefits to it.
● In short, the ecological niche is the way the organism lives.
There are three aspects of ecological niche as given below
i) Spatial or habitat niche: The physical
space occupied by the organism.
ii Trophic niche : The trophic position of
the organism and its functional role.
iii. Multidimensional or hyper volume
niche : Position of the organism in the
Thus the ecological niche of an organism helps us to understand not only where it lives but also what it does there i.e. how it transforms energy, behaves, responds to and modifies its physical and biotic environment and how it is constrained by other species.
Thus ecological niche is significant in ecology to understand the differences between the species at same physical place or at different places or the same species at more than one