Habitat is a set of the place of environmental conditions in which particular organism lives and adapt the situation accordingly. A niche is nothing but an idea or role played by organisms that how they can live in an environment including their diet, shelter, etc. Mainly niche is concerned with the factor of gaining energy by organisms and supplying it to other, in the ecosystem.
A habitat defines the interaction of organisms with the other factors, which can be living or non-living, while niche describes how that specific organism is linked with its physical and biological environment.
Habitat is the part of the ecosystem, while niche plays an important role in the formation of an ecosystem. Both the words describe the living habits of the organisms of all kinds of species, how they interact with each other, what do they eat, their shelter, etc. Each organism plays their particular role in its ecosystem and also have their own defined niche in the ecosystem.
Ecology is the study of all the living beings and their interactions with the environment, whether a plant or an animal or other organisms. It also includes non-living things such as temperature, soil, water, rocks, climate, etc.
The above-described terms are the part of ecosystem only, and they are very closely related, having a thin layer of difference, which is mark full though. In the given content we will discuss the general and the key difference between both of them.
Content: Habitat Vs Niche
|Basis for Comparison||Habitat||Niche|
|Meaning||A habitat is an area, where a species lives and interact with the other factors.||A niche is an ideology, of how an organisms lives or survive in the provided environmental conditions.|
|Consist of||Habitat consist of numerous niches.||Niches does not contains such components.|
|It includes||Affect of temperature, rainfall and other abiotic factors.||Flow of energy from one organisms to other through ecosystem.
|Examples||Desrets, oceans, forest, rivers, mountains, etc. are examples of habitat.||It is a part of habitat only, where shelter for living being can be furnished.|
|Supports||Habitat supports numerous species at a time.||Niche supports a single species at a time.|
|What it is||Superset||Subset|
|Nature||Habitat is a physical place.||Niche is an activity performed by organisms.
|Specificity||Habitat is not species specific.||Niche is species specific.
Definition of Habitat
Place or area where a particular species lives is its habitat. A habitat is a part and is considered as the real place of an ecosystem. Factors like the sunlight, average rainfall, annual temperatures, type of soil present and other abiotic factors may affect the presence of organisms and traits in that environment. These factors help in determining the presence of the particular type of species suited for that environment.
We can say that habitat is a nutrient or energy providing area for all types of organisms, irrespective of the kinds of species. Habitat defines as a field where all living organisms live in the natural environment and reflect their way of living.
Pond, river, ocean is the best example of habitat as many organisms are found in the same place or habitat. These habitats can be arboreal, terrestrial, aerial, aquatic, etc.
Definition of Niche
The term niche was first time used by ‘Grinnell’ in 1971. The term ecological niche is still not well understood and is sometimes even misused. Niche is nothing but an idea of the distributional unit, where organisms are kept within their constitutional and instigative boundations.
Niche can be further described as appearance and post of a species in the environment; like what they do for their survival, how they fulfill their needs of shelter, food, etc. So it is used to describe as where an organism lives. In short, we can say that niche is not a place but it is an ideology which describes the organism’s tolerance and requirements.
A niche is thus defined by ‘n’ variables and is limitations of all important environment features, around which individuals of a species can survive, grow and reproduce.
Factors like the functional role of a species, where it is living in the community i.e trophic level and secondary, other conditions pH, oil, temperature, moisture, climate also define the niche of organisms. So we can say that it interact with biotic as well abiotic factors. Biotic factors include living organisms, while abiotic factors include all non-living things.
As said above, niche deals with the flow of energy that passes from one organism to another and hence it is noteworthy to know that what an organisms eat, how they interact with other organisms, etc. As soon as the niche is left vacant, other organisms can fill that positions. The niche should be specific to each species, which means no two species can share the same niche.
If the species creates its own unique niche in an ecosystem, it would be helpful in reducing competition for resources among other species. By taking an example of a bird it can be understood that how these birds differ in their eating habits, where some birds eat only insects, some only fruits and some can eat anything they come across. So here we can conclude that these birds being of the same habitat, differ in their niches because of different eating habits.
Three types of niches are found:
a) Spatial or habitat niche– deals with the physical space occupied by the organisms.
b) Trophic niche– on the basis food level of an organization, it is distinguished.
c) Multidimensional or Hypervolume niche– complexed to understand and explainable using fundamental and realized niches.
Key Differences Between Habitat and Niche
Following are the substantial difference between habitat and niche.
- A habitat can be defined as an area, where different species lives and interact with the other factors, while niche is an ideology, of how an organism’s lives and survive in the provided environmental conditions.
- Habitat consists of numerous niches; Niche does not contain any such components.
- Habitat includes the effect of temperature, rainfall, and other abiotic factors; Niche includes the flow of energy from one organism to other through the ecosystem.
- Examples of habitat include deserts, oceans, forest, rivers, mountains, etc.; Niche is a part of habitat only, where a shelter for living being can be furnished.
- Habitat supports numerous species at a time; Niche supports a single species at a time.
- As said above habitat is a superset of niche and niche is a subset of habitat, which means niche is a part of the habitat.
- A habitat is a physical place in nature, while niche is a kind of activity performed by organisms.
- Habitat is not species specific while niche is species specific.
Hence we can say that there are many definitions of niche, defined by different ecologist, but the basic idea of niche lies between the interaction of different ecological factors and organism in the ecosystem.
On the other hand, habitat is the natural environment inhabited by any organisms whether a plant or an animal or any other microorganisms. As both the terms are closely related, hence it is important to understand them precisely and mark the difference.