noun, plural: niches

(ecology) (1) The specific area where an organism inhabits.

(2) The role or function of an organism or species in an ecosystem.

(3) The interrelationship of a species with all the biotic and abiotic factors affecting it.

(general) A cavity, hollow, or recess, especially in a wall.


In ecology, the definition of niche has changed overtime. Joseph Grinnell in 1917 coined the term niche, which he used as largely equivalent to a species habitat. In 1927, Charles Sutherland Elton regarded niche to be equivalent to the position of a species in a trophic web. In 1958, George Evelyn Hutchinson used the term niche to describe the multi-dimensional space of resources available to and used by a species.

Word origin: From Old (and modern) French niche, from nichier ‘make a nest’ (modern nicher), from Latin nidus ‘nest’.

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