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Difference Between Habitat And Niche

Difference Between Habitat And Niche

Every organism needs a particular environment for its survival. Habitat refers to the natural environment in which organisms live and use the resources available in the habitat. A Niche refers to fundamental requirements in which the organism can survive and reproduce. Though they seem similar, they differ from each other.

Table of Contents:

  • What is Habitat?
  • Habitat for Different Organisms
  • Types of Habitat
  • What is Niche?
  • Types of Niche
  • Difference between Habitat and Niche
  • Practice Problems
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What is Habitat?

Habitat refers to the place the organism lives in. The habitat of an organism is characterised by the physical and biological features of the habitat. Physical factors such as land type, sunlight, temperature and climate of the habitat and biological factors such as food availability, predators, plants and other animals play an important role in the survival of the organism. For example, in Asia, forests and grassland are some examples of Habitats.

Habitat for Different Organisms

  • Aquatic plants - ponds and lakes
  • Xerophytes - xeric environment
  • Epiphytes - tree trunks or rocks
  • Lithophytes - substrates 

There are two types of components:

  • Biotic components refer to all living things, such as plants and animals. It also includes waste from living and organisms.
  • Abiotic components refer to all non-living things, such as air, water, light, temperature, soil, etc.

Types of Habitat

There are three types of habitats given below:

  • Terrestrial Habitat

Terrestrial Habitat refers to deserts, forests, grassland or gardens. In these, microhabitats are differentiated. For example, in forests, microhabitats are ground canopy, ground vegetation, top canopy and many more. The flora and fauna are present depending on the pH, moisture content, rainfall, humidity etc.

  • Aquatic Habitat

Aquatic Habitat refers to rivers, lakes, ponds, seas and oceans where aquatic plants and animals can survive and reproduce. 

  • Aerial Habitat

 Aerial Habitat is suitable for organisms that are capable of flying or activities in the aerial environment. These organisms are called aerial organisms. Some examples of aerial organisms are birds and insects.

What is Niche?

A niche refers to the distribution of specific parameters to all species. It depends on the abiotic factors, the behaviour of the organism and the source of food, which restrict the organism from living in a particular area. Niche not only involves physical space occupied but also explains the functional role of the community, that is, what they eat, where they live and their contribution to the ecosystem.

Types of Niche

There are three types of niches. They are:

  • Habitat or Spatial niche

It refers to the space occupied by an organism. Though the organisms have similar habitats, different microhabitats are owned by several species. 

  • Trophic Niche

It refers to the functional role of the species in the particular Habitat. Though organisms belong to different species, they share the same Habitat. However, the trophic niche is different. For example, a tree is shared by birds feeding on fruits and others feeding on insects.

  • Multidimensional or hypervolume niche

It refers to the position of species in the environment. There are both abiotic and biotic factors that affect the population. It is the fundamental niche of the species. 

Difference between Habitat and Niche

The following table below shows the important difference between habitat and niche:

Habitat

Niche

It is a particular place where organisms live.

It refers to the specific role of the organism in the environment.

It involves many species occupying the same area.

It is species-centric and occupies only one species.

It is a superset of a niche.

It is a subset of habitat.

It includes several niches.

It is specific to particular species but should have distinct differences.

Examples: Forests, oceans, grassland, etc. 

Examples: Darwin’s finches occupying several tropic positions.

Practice Problems

Q1. Which of the following is not a habitat of aquatic plants?

A. Sea
B. Forest
C. Lakes
D. Ponds

Answer: B. Forest

Q2. Which of the following doesn’t belong to aerial habitat?

A. Insects
B. Birds
C. Xerophytes 
D. None of the above

Answer: C. Xerophytes 

Q3. Which of the following explains the functional role of the community?

A. Niche
B. Habitat
C. Both niche and habitat
D. None of the above

Answer: A. Niche 

Explanation: Niche not only involves physical space occupied but also explains the functional role of the community, that is, what they eat, where they live and their contribution to the ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.  What is Ecology?
Answer : Ecology is the study of living organisms with their physical environment. It deals with the interaction and dependency of the organism in their surroundings.

Q2. Give an example of a niche is one Habitat.
Answer : Some examples of niches in a habitat are ponds in the woods, rocks on the shore and trees in the garden.

Q3. What is the difference between ecology and ecosystem?
Answer : Ecology refers to the study of a living organism and its relationship with the environment. In contrast, the ecosystem is the subset of ecology, the geographical area where animals and plants live together.

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