Area, Habitat, Microhabitat and Ecological Niche ! Essay

In fact, the niche if the property of the community and it re­presents the place of the species in the formal community structure the term niche has been used in ecology with a variety of mean­ings and the following discussion will make it clearer.

The area of a species or any other taxon refers to the total extent of its geographical range of dispersal; this can be plotted on a map. The habitat of a species described in a single word or phrase the totality of abiotic factors to which the species is exposed in this area. Thus one can talk of marine habitats, coastal habitats, marsh habitats, forest habitats, disturbed habitats or even dry habitats.

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In many cases, however, the habitat of the species is highly specialized. Certain species of leaf miners, for example, live only in the upper photosynthetic layer of the leaves of certain species of plant, while other species live in the lower cell layer. These patterns of location are so consistent that it is clear that the habi­tats of the species are different. Subdivisions of the environment on this scale are commonly called microhabitats.

Thus the leaf constitutes a microhabitat for leaf miners within the total forest, and the different cell layers of leaf constitute different micro­habitats within the leaf for different species of leaf miner. Condi­tions within the leaves are quite different from the general condi­tions in the forest. The specific environmental variables in the microhabitat of a population is called microenvironment or the microclimate (Clapham, Jr., 1973).

Though habitats and microhabitats indicate the places where organisms of a community live, but, if one wishes to understand how a species fits into the fabric of the ecosystem, it is not enough to merely describe the creature’s habitat or microhabitat, he must also understand its functional role within the community— “address” of the organism but its “profession” as well.

This in­cludes what it eats, what it does, where it lives-everything about it that influences the community. Thus, the ecological niche is a Particular combination of physical factors (microhabitat) and biotic relations (role) required by a species for its life activities and conti­nued existence in a community (Kendeigh, 1974).

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