What Is The Difference Between Habitat And Niche?

A pond is an example of a habitat.

Habitat refers to an ecological part of the environment where animals or plants and other organisms live. It is a zone or area where organisms can thrive, find shelter, food, reproduce, and find protection. All organisms have specific habitats. Some organisms are flexible and can survive in various habitats, while others are specific and cannot survive in any other habitat. Therefore, a habitat can support different types of species. A niche is nothing more than an ecological term that describes the role of an organism or species in an environment. It describes how organisms respond to the availability of resources and their competitors within an environment. A niche encompasses what organisms can eat and the way it interacts with other organisms and other components in the environment.

Difference In Meaning

Habitat refers to a place where an organism or species lives while interacting with other factors. The organism has evolved adaptive traits to their habitats. On the other hand, a niche is a term describing how an organism survives or lives in specific environmental conditions which include their shelter, diet, and temperature. It involves factors of energy gain by the organism and supplying energy to others within an ecosystem. It describes the place of an organism occupies in the food chain and how they relate with other species.

A Habitat Is A Place While A Niche Is Not

Habitat is an area or a place where an organism lives and thrives with the capability of reproducing and finding food for its survival. Therefore, a habitat is a place within the ecosystem. Other factors like rainfall, humidity, sunlight, temperature, type of soil, among many other factors like abiotic, would typically affect the presence of the organism and their characteristics in that environment. These factors would also determine the type of species suitable for that particular environment. A niche can be seen as an ideology that describes how an organism survives in a particular place. An ocean, river, or a pond can be a habitat.

A Niche Is Species-Specific While Habitat Is Not

A habitat is not species-specific and supports different species and can be seen as consisting of several niches. A niche is species-specific supporting a single species and does not involve several components. A habitat can be viewed as a superset of a niche; on the other hand, a niche can be viewed as a subset of a habitat. Therefore, a niche can be part of a habitat.

A Niche Is Not A Spatial Parameter

A habitat can vary with context and scale. For instance, a large forest can be a habitat supporting several species. Within the forest, a tiny micro-organism could be living in a small part of the soil, which becomes its habitat. A niche which describes the role of an organism has no concept of scale. For instance, an earthworm that has its habitat in the soil plays the role of decomposing dead matter (niche), which does not take into account the area of coverage (scale).


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