The health of an ecosystem directly depends on the species diversity. Ecosystems have evolved to accommodate more number of individuals and species in it, so as to remain stable despite environmental disturbances. Ecosystems can be huge, with many hundreds of different animals and plants all living in a delicate balance, or they could be relatively small. Especially harsh places in the world, particularly the North and South Poles, the ecosystems are relatively simple because there are only a few types of creatures that can withstand the freezing temperatures and harsh living conditions.
Every organism in the planet has a huge impact in the ecosystem of the earth. They have their own places to live, functions, and amazing ways of reproduction to multiply their species. To help maintain the biological world people must be informed, not only on the physical aspect of it, but on a deeper level of how they live as one.
A habitat is the specific physical place in which an organism lives. Many items are used to explain a habitat. The range of annual temperatures, the average amount of sunlight received every day, and average yearly rainfall can all describe a habitat. These and other abiotic factors will affect the kind of traits an organism must have in order to survive there. The temperature, the amount of rainfall, the type of soil and other abiotic factors all have a significant role in determining the plants that invade an area. The plants then determine the animals that come to eat the plants, and so on. A habitat should not be confused with an ecosystem: the habitat is the actual place of the ecosystem, whereas the ecosystem includes both the biotic and abiotic factors in the habitat.
The word niche comes from the French word nicher, which means “to nest.” A niche is the role a species plays in the ecosystem. In other words, a niche is how an organism “makes a living.” Niches describe the position of an organism on the food chain and its relationship with other species (whether it is beneficial, adverse or neutral) in that ecosystem. There is no concept of scale, as this is not a spatial parameter. An earthworm could have its habitat described as the soil (small scale) or agricultural land (large scale), but its role in both remains the same, which is to decompose dead material (niche). By specifically adapting to a particular set of environmental abiotic conditions, organisms increase their ability of obtaining a “permanent address” and ensuring a habitat for themselves in the ecosystem. Similarly, organisms, by way of interaction with other organisms, adapt to a particular process in the ecosystem, gaining the ability of having “a job” and establishing themselves permanently.
Difference between habitat and niche
Habitat refers to an ecological part of the environment where animals or plants and other organisms live. It is an area or a place where an organism lives and thrives with the capability of reproducing and finding food for its survival. All organisms have specific habitats. Some organisms are flexible and can survive in various habitats, while others are specific and cannot survive in any other habitat. Therefore, each habitat can support specific types of species. On the other hand, a niche is a term describing how an organism survives or lives in specific environmental conditions which include their shelter, diet, and temperature. It describes how organisms respond to the availability of resources and their competitors within an environment. A niche encompasses what organisms can eat and the way it interacts with other organisms and other components in the environment.
In conclusion, an ocean or a river can be a habitat. Habitats are the physical parts of an ecosystem and niches are the functional parts. Habitat and niches are both integral for an ecosystem to survive and support high species richness and diversity.