The concepts of habitat and ecological niche are often confused when it comes to ecology.
To study a living being, it is extremely important to know both. Then, check below the characteristics, differences and examples of habitat and ecological niche.
What is habitat ? Habitat is the place where a certain species lives, the ideal environment for reproduction to occur, the search for food and security for survival.
If removed from their natural habitat, many species cannot survive and may even be extinct.
Some species, on the other hand, can adapt so well that they reproduce and, because they do not have a predator in the new location, they increase the number of individuals in the population in an exaggerated way, causing a competition between them.
What is an ecological niche ? The ecological niche refers to the way of life and the ecological relationships of a given species in a place, this includes their food, way of reproduction and how they escape from predators.
Summing up this concept, we can say that the ecological niche is the ecological role of a species in the community in which it lives.
If two species have the same ecological niche, they can even coexist in harmony in the same area. However, most will compete with each other, which may lead to the migration of one species to another location or to its extinction.
Mind Map – Habitat x ecological niche.
Click here to download this PDF mind map.
Examples of ecological habitats and niches
The golden lion tamarin lives in the Atlantic Forest that is its habitat. These animals live in family groups and their diet consists of fruits, some small animals and, in general, insects. It is also a great seed disperser, being important for plant pollination. This is the ecological niche of the golden lion tamarin.
Zebras and giraffes occupy the same habitat: African savannas. But they are not competitive because the feeding of the zebra is low and the giraffe in the treetops. This is the ecological niche of these animals.
The purple-faced parrot is another animal that has the Atlantic Forest as a habitat. Its ecological niche occurs twice a day, in the morning and at night, when the animal is active. It feeds on flowers, fruits and leaves.