Ecological niche: tolerances and requirements of an organism
What is (concept)
The ecological niche is an idea, a conception: it summarizes the tolerances and requirements of an organism.
The concept of ecological niche is associated with that of habitat. However, it cannot and should not be confused with this. For example, the intestinal tube is the habitat of a parasite. This is where the parasite lives.
Its ecological niche is the set of conditions that this parasite tolerates and demands. This cluster of conditions is made up of various aspects, which can be physical, chemical and biological. In the case of the parasite, it can be, among several other aspects:
- Temperature range where the parasite works well and reproduces.
- types of food eaten by the host that can be used by him.
- species of microorganisms with which it interacts, giving it benefits.
In short, the ecological niche is the way the organism lives.
An ecological niche is characterized by:
- have different dimensions (eg temperature, relative humidity and salinity).
- be unique to each species of being alive.
The differentiation of ecological niche between organisms
Environmental conditions in Puerto Rico's forests vary greatly. There are eleven species of lizards of the genus Anolis. All species share the same habitat: the rainforest of this country. However, the ecological niche of each of the lizard species is particular.
For example: The species Anolis poncensis It is always found near the ground and in drier, brighter regions. Already the species Anolis occultus prefers the middle part of the treetops. It cannot tolerate the breadth and airiness that Anolis poncensis can tolerate. The body of one Anolis occultus It works well only within the range of environmental conditions under which this species evolved.
So one of the explanations for so many lizards to live without much dispute is that they occupy different ecological niches. This idea is called ecological niche differentiation and happens in the most diverse animal and plant groups.