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Niche Theor1 - Niche theory distinguishes between...

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Niche Theory Niche concept is central to modern ecological theory In particular, niche is used to describe and analyze 1. ways in which diff. species interact (including competition, resource partitioning, exclusion or coexistence); 2. why some species are rare and others abundant; 3. what determines geographical distribution of a given species; 4. what determines structure and stability of multi-species communities Term "niche" borrowed from church architecture, but in ecology it is not a spatial term like habitat or environment (though related to these) What's the difference between the two concepts? Habitat = "address" (environmental region or community inhabited by a population) Niche = "profession" (way in which a population utilizes a habitat) Though realizing that any population's niche is multi-dimensional in very complex ways, ecologists have often simplified analyses by considering one or two dimensions at a time (e.g., food resource niche)
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Unformatted text preview: Niche theory distinguishes between fundamental & realized niches: • fundamental = all possible conditions under which population reproduces itself • realized niche = the actual niche exhibited in particular time & place Realized niche will almost always be a subset of ("smaller than") the fundamental niche, for various reasons; one important determinant of realized niche is presence or absence of different competitors Recall the definition of ecological competition ( competition lecture ): presence of N 1 has negative effect on growth rate of N 2 because both populations utilize > 1 of same limited (relative to demand) resources Obviously, the more limited resources two populations have in common (i.e., the more similar their niches are), the greater the impact of competition (all else being equal) Consider an extreme case: Can 2 populations occupying the same resource niche coexist in the same environment?...
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