What is the difference between habitat and niche?
Ecology talks about a living organism and its environment. These organisms tend to occupy certain areas for their growth, survival, and reproduction.
The lesson provides detailed insight into the difference between habitat and niche with a comparison table. The main aim is to make understanding quite simple.
What Is a Habitat?
Habitat refers to the place or an area where a particular species of living organisms live. The key factors that affect the presence of these species in that area are sunlight, rainfall, temperature, soil, and other abiotic factors.
A habitat is typically a nutrient or energy providing area regardless of the type of species living in the area. Habitat can be arboreal, terrestrial, aerial, aquatic, etc.
What Is a Niche?
A niche refers to the exact position where a given species of organism occupy. It is also described as the role of an organism in the environment.
Niches tend to be unique for different living organisms living in the same habitat due to different environmental conditions.
Here are the types of niches:
- A spatial niche refers to the physical space occupied by a living organism
- Trophic niche describes the food level of organisms
- Hypervolume niche can be explained using fundamental and realized niches.
Comparison Chart: Habitat vs Niche
|Meaning||It is an area of the ecosystem occupied by a living organism||It is the exact position living organism tend to occupy in the ecosystem|
|Nature||Physical Space||Functional activity|
|Characteristics||Reflect the living place of the organism||Reflect the relationship between abiotic and biotic factors in terms of diet or reproduction|
|Effect||Deals with the effect of the environment on the organism||Deals with the effect of the individual to an organism|
|Change||A species does not change its habitat||A species may change its niche|
|Support||Support different species||Support single species|
|Core Function||It provides food, shelter, protection, and mates for reproduction to the organism.||Shows the interaction of the organism with living and non-living components of the environment.|
|Consist Of||Multiple niches||No form of component|
|Examples||Desert, ocean, mountains, grassland, forest, etc.||The different trophic position occupied by Darwin’s finches|
Core Differences between Niche and Habitat
- Habitat is a locality where the community resides whereas a niche is the exact position where a living organism occupies in an ecosystem.
- Habitat has multiple niches whereas niche does not have any component
- Habitat support several species whereas niche support single species
- Habitat is affected by a number of variable environmental conditions whereas niche has a specific set of environmental conditions
- Species tend to change their niches depending on the development stages of life whereas habitats cannot be changed.
- The nature of habitat is physical space while niche is the functional activity
- Examples of habitat are oceans, ponds, forests, deserts, and mountains while niche is a shelter for living organisms and can be furnished.
- Habitat is not species-specific while niche is species-specific.
The core difference between habitat and niche is that a habitat refers to a particular place where a living organism lives whereas a niche describes a particular role played by organisms in the ecosystem.