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Ecological Niche

By | March 2013
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Ecological niche
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Black smokers create ecological niches with their unusual environment In ecology, a niche (CanE, UK /ˈniːʃ/ or US /ˈnɪtʃ/)[1] is a term describing the way of life of a species. Each species is thought to have a separate, unique niche. The ecological niche describes how an organism or population responds to the distribution of resources and competitors (e.g., by growing when resources are abundant, and when predators, parasites and pathogens are scarce) and how it in turn alters those same factors (e.g., limiting access to resources by other organisms, acting as a food source for predators and a consumer of prey).[2] The majority of species exist in a standard ecological niche. A premier example of a non-standard niche filling species is the flightless, ground-dwelling kiwi bird of New Zealand, which exists on worms, and other ground creatures, and lives its life in a mammal niche. Island biogeography can help explain island species and associated unfilled niches. Contents[hide] * 1 Grinnellian niche * 2 Eltonian niche * 3 Hutchinsonian niche * 4 Parameters * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links| [edit] Grinnellian niche

The word "niche" is derived from the Middle French word nicher, meaning to nest. The term was coined by the naturalist Joseph Grinnell in 1917, in his paper "The niche relationships of the California Thrasher."[3] The Grinnellian niche concept embodies the idea that the niche of a species is determined by the habitat in which it lives. In other words, the niche is the sum of the habitat requirements that allow a species to persist and produce offspring. For example, the behavior of the California Thrasher is consistent with the chaparral habitat it lives in—it breeds and feeds in the underbrush and escapes from its predators by shuffling from underbrush to underbrush. This perspective of niche allows for the existence of ecological...

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