Niche – Definition and Examples | Biology Dictionary
Niche – Definition and Examples | Biology Dictionary

Niche – Definition and Examples | Biology Dictionary

Niche Definition

The niche of an organism is the functional function that it plays within an ecosystem. The niche ( good refined as the ‘ ecological niche ’ ) is determined by the biotic factors, which consist of survive features such as animals, plants and fungi, and abiotic factors. Abiotic factors are the inanimate, environmental features such as sunlight and body of water handiness and weather, adenine well as resources such as food and other nutrients. The recess of an organism within an ecosystem depends on how the organism responds and reacts to the distribution and abundance of these factors, and in act how it alters the factors. For example, when resources are abundant, a population grows, although by growing, the population provides more resources for predators. Eugene P. Odum describes in The Fundamentals of Ecology ( 1959 ) that

“ The ecological recess of an organism depends not only on where it lives but besides on what it does. By analogy, it may be said that the habitat is the organism ’ s “ address ”, and the recess is its “ profession ” biologically speaking. ”

It can be advantageous for an organism to occupy a very specific niche : this way they will encounter less interspecies competition. such organisms are called recess specialists. however, specialist species that occupy a very narrow or highly specify niche brush problems when there is a sudden refuse or change in biotic or abiotic factors ; if the organism is unable to adapt to the change, it becomes highly vulnerable to population decrease or extinction. For this rationality, many species have evolved with the ability to thrive under a roll of different environmental conditions, making use of a variety show of resources ; these are called recess generalists. It should be noted that the differentiation between specialists and renaissance man species occurs on a continuum ; some specialists are highly specialized, while others occupy a slenderly broader recess. Some generalists are more speciate than others. In the relative absence of ecological disturbance, specialist species are often able to thrive, which drives divergent evolution, and speciation. The wide range of biotic factors and environmental conditions that an organism can utilize and survive in is called its fundamental niche. however, there are restraints on populations, such as rival, predation and resource handiness. These restraints are called specify factors. Limiting factors prevent populations from increasing indefinitely, restricting organisms to occupy their actual or realized niche.

Examples of Niche


giant star giant panda bears ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ) are niche specialists. They have a very limited diet, 99 % of which consists of bamboo. They have evolved particularly adapted ovolo, which allow them to grip the bamboo. Bamboo does not provide much nutrition, and thus the giant panda must spend most of their clock eat, consuming around 70lbs of bamboo every day to support their large bodies. To conserve department of energy, pandas do not move very far, and then have a home range of around only 3 miles, near streams so that bracing drink in water is available, and where there are caves suitable for raising their new. Their highly specialized diet means that they do not normally encounter interspecies competition, and they live lone lives indeed as to avoid intraspecies rival. Adults have no natural predators, so their populations are kept to desirable levels through their life cycles ; in the hazardous they reproduce lone once every two years, which means natural populations do not get excessively dense and intraspecies competition does not occur frequently. Because the recess of lesser panda is so speciate, they are exceptionally vulnerable to homo impact and their populations have experienced dramatic declines.
The biggest menace has been deforestation for farmland, mining and logging, which has destroyed most of their habitat. They are now restricted to the humid bamboo forests of a few mountains in South westerly China where they prefer the cool temperatures at high altitudes of around 4,000 to 10,000 foot.

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Coyotes ( Canis latrans ) are successful niche generalists. originally native to deserts, these omnivorous opportunists are able to adapt to about all habitats at many different successional stages, and altitudes up to around 9800 foot. Their diets are highly varied, chiefly consisting of rats, mouse, anchor squirrels and carrion, they besides feed on snakes, birds, tortoises, fruit, nuts and eatage ; they eat about anything they can find and they cause big problems to farmers by hunting sheep and domestic fowl. They can hunt by digging out prey, or ambushing and haunt, and can reach speeds of up to 40mph. They are besides able to hunt solitarily, in pairs or in little packs. They are very tolerant of human activities and so have managed to integrate within urban areas, feeding from human waste. Because coyotes are able to adapt their recess quickly to changes in their environment, their populations are ever increasing, often to the detriment of early species, whose recess they exploit, causing rival. however, the removal of coyotes entirely from an ecosystem can be equally damaging ; coyotes ’ natural niche includes the depredation of mesocarnivores such as foxes and raccoons, which eat songbirds and duck eggs. In the absence of coyotes, numbers of these birds decline quickly.

The Birds of New Zealand

The island of New Zealand is a geographically isolated landmass off the southeast coast of Australia. Because of the great distance between New Zealand and any early large landmass, the only organisms that were able to colonize the land were those which were able to fly or float across the sea. Because migration on to the island was so unmanageable, the island community wholly miss mammals, except for three species of bat and mammals that were able to swim, such as seals and sea lions.

In the absence of mammals, the native animals filled ecological niches of depredation, scavenging and browse, which are filled by mammals in most other ecosystem. This resulted in a diverse fix of morphologically clear-cut birds, insects and reptiles, which are like no others seen on Earth. For exercise, the South Island takahē ( Porphyrio hochstetteri ) and the Kakapo Parrot ( Strigops habroptilus ) evolved to assume the function of grazers such as sheep, feeding on pot, shoots and leaves. The colossus Moa ( Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae ), although immediately extinct, were big birds, growing up to around 12ft improbable and over 500lb in burden. These birds fed on twigs, leaves and other versatile plant parts, assuming the recess that in early parts of the earth is filled by deer and other ungulate browse herbivores. The Kiwi, a nocturnal dame of the genus Apteryx, assumes the recess that small mammals such as mice and moles normally fill, feeding on seeds, fruit, invertebrates and grubs. The only predators on the island were flying birds, then in the absence of land-based predators, and as a consequence of their planetary niche roles, many of New Zealand ’ south birds evolved to become flightless ; evening the bats spend most of their time on the land. When humans first arrived on the islands around 700 years ago, they brought with them rats and dogs, and later, Europeans brought stoats, pigs, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle, deer and many other animals. This has been devastating to the native wildlife ; they are either outcompeted by early organisms that are adapted to fill detail niches or they are directly predated on because they lack protection against land-based predators. The case of New Zealand ’ mho birds is not wholly an anomaly. Islands that have been isolated for a long clock frequently develop their own alone flora and fauna which have evolved to fill niches in the absence of other organisms. For example, the lemur of Madagascar evolved divers adaptions to fill many niches not normally filled by primates, due to Madagascar ’ s varied terrains and habitats and a lack of early types of mammal. Another celebrated model of niche adaptation is Darwin ’ s finches on the Galapagos Islands. These birds evolved unlike beak shapes and body sizes on each island, according to the types of food that was available. Giant moa The double above shows a giant Moa of New Zealand evolved to fill a recess that is normally filled by browsing herbivores such as deer.

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  • Competition – An interaction within or between species, where either organisms or populations are competing for the same resource.
  • Realized Niche – The actual amount of resources or environmental conditions that an organism is able to utilize within an ecosystem.
  • Fundamental Niche – The total range of environmental conditions that is suitable in order for an organism to exist, in the absence of limiting factors.
  • Limiting Factors – Factors such as food, access to mates or climate, which prevent organisms from fulfilling their fundamental niche.


1. What is the niche of an organism?
A. The habitat that it lives in.
B. The full range of conditions that is available for an organism to use.
C. The fully compass of interactions it has with an environment ’ south abiotic and biotic factors and the effect that the organism ’ sulfur bearing has on other organisms and the environment.
D. The conditions that limit the increase of the organism ’ s population.

Answer to Question # 1 C is correct. The niche of an organism depends on how it responds and reacts to abiotic and biotic factors within an environment, and the consequence that it has in turn on those factors. 2. Species often become niche specialists because:
A. They are probably to be less vulnerable
B. They experience reduced intraspecies competition
C. They experience reduced interspecies rival
D. There are fewer resources available

Answer to Question # 2 C is correct. specialist species normally benefit from reduced interspecies contest ; however, because their recess is reliant on a certain resource or habitat, they are normally identical vulnerable to change in this factor. 3. What can the successful adaption of different niche roles by organisms result in?
A. Speciation
B. Competition
C. Predation
D. none of the above

Answer to Question # 3A is correct. When organisms adopt a new niche role successfully, this can result in speciation and can increase is correct. When organism adopt a new recess role successfully, this can result in speciation and can increase biodiversity. This is specially genuine for niche specialists .

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