An ecological niche is the role that a species plays and its position within the environment in which it develops; it is the way in which it manages to satisfy its food and shelter needs, how it survives and how it reproduces. A species' niche includes all its interactions with both biotic and abiotic factors in its environment. Let us remember that biotic factors are all living beings, while abiotic factors are all those things that have no life.
In biology field, the ecological niche represents the place and function that a species or a group of species has within a given ecosystem, it is the place in which different species live and in which different factors intervene, biotic and abiotic.
Some of the main characteristics that we can observe in an ecological niche are:
Within the environment we can find two different types of ecological niche that are explained below.
Fundamental Niche: This type of niche is the one that implies the range of different conditions in which organisms can live and reproduce their species. In spite of the different conditions, sometimes fighting to dominate the territory producing a competition between two same species known as interspecific competition, which gives the strongest the highest hierarchy.
This is the part of ecological niche occupied by competing species. The place’s resources are usually responsible for this competition. When there is a reduction in interspecific competition, species are able to explore more areas within the niche than they were previously unable to investigate, and this results in an effective niche widening.
There are some important differences between species habitat and ecological niche. Habitat is the place in which organisms can live as the conditions they present encourage growth, development and reproduction, in addition, habitat is inhabited by different species at the same time, and space can be very large or small. This means that more than one ecological niche may exist within the habitat.
Niches, on the contrary, are delimited depending on the number and the aspects that can affect a certain organism, it is usually formed by a group of variables that make that an organism can live and reproduce in a certain place using certain factors for it. Then, the habitat will be the place to live or the physical space, and the ecological niche will be the relationship between populations of species in an ecosystem or the strategy used by living beings to survive, feed, compete and hunt.
Ecological niches are important for a given place because they allow different species to live together, usually without competition. Each species knows its position in both the ecosystem and the food chain. The number of niches in an ecosystem determines the number of species in it, that is, they define the diversity of the place.
Here we mention different animal species and their niches.