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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 is 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 they are often synonymous terms to people in general.

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

  1. What is the habitat of a species
  2. What is the ecological niche of a species
  3. Habitat and ecological niche: differences
  4. Some examples of habitat and ecological niche

What is the habitat of a species

The habitat is defined as the physical place that the organism itself occupies and is a definition widely used in general to define where a species is found. In turn, the habitat of an organism is characterized by conditions within certain limits and certain resources. When selecting their habitat, the species choose the most suitable or the one that allows them to survive. Thus, the habitat that a certain organism occupies depends on what it is capable of colonizing and dispersing .

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 competitions with other species, hunting or escaping predators. In short, the ecological niche is a functional definition of the place that a species occupies within the habitat in which they live. Within this definition, it is also taken into account how different environmental conditions and the presence of other species influence the aforementioned factors.

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, it only considers what the species is capable of feeding.

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, they can be distinguished, for example, in the same habitat, pollinators, scavengers, those that carry out photosynthesis, decomposers, etc.

However, two species can enter into interspecific competition when they occupy very similar or identical ecological niches. For example, one of the problems of invasive species is that, when they establish themselves in an ecosystem, they sometimes begin to compete with other native species for the same ecological niche, being able to displace them and thus affect other individuals living in that ecosystem, thus producing an imbalance in natural ecosystems .

Some examples of habitat and ecological niche

  • Green anaconda ( Eunectes murinus ): It inhabits the humid tropical forests of South America such as the Amazon rainforest and occupies its niche as an omnivorous predator in soils and flooded areas.
  • Bactrian camel ( Camellos bactrianus ): 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 ): It 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 ( Lumbricus terrestrial ): inhabits the earth and occupies their niche as decomposers, improving the quality of the soil through their 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 the 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. Furthermore, it forms the basis of many food chains.
  • Panda bear ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ): It lives in mountainous regions of Asia, mainly China, at 3500 meters. It occupies its niche by feeding on bamboo (mostly), although it can also eat fish, insects or small mammals. Where it lives it 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 for other animals.

If you want to read more articles similar to Difference between habitat and ecological niche with examples , we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category .

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