QVprep Biology Lessons

What is biodiversity, What is a habitat, What is a niche, Niche construction



What is biodiversity?: Biodiversity is the variety of life and its processes. It includes the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, the communities and ecosystems in which they occur, and the ecological processes that keep them functioning. Biodiversity includes species diversity, ecosystem diversity, and genetic diversity. Biodiversity plays an important role in maintaining ecosystems. Preventing species extinctions is one way to preserve biodiversity by preserving genetic diversity, habitat and the ability for species to migrate

What is a habitat?: The habitat of a species describes the environment where a species lives and the type of community that is formed as a result. Biotope and habitat are sometimes used interchangeably. Biotope refers to a community's environment, whereas habitat applies to a species' environment. Some species behave as ecosystem engineers and alter the environment within a region. Ecosystem engineers are defined as organisms that directly or indirectly modulate the availability of resources to other species, by causing changes in biotic or abiotic materials. A good example is the beavers which manage water levels by building dams and improve the habitat. Corals adapt to and modify their environment by forming calcium carbonate skeletons that provide ideal growing conditions for future generations and forms a habitat for other species.

What is a niche?: The set of biotic and abiotic conditions in which a species is able to persist and maintain stable population sizes is referred to as the niche. The ecological niche is a central concept in the ecology of organisms and is sub-divided into the fundamental and the realized niche. The fundamental niche is the set of environmental conditions under which a species is able to persist. The realized niche is the set of environmental plus ecological conditions under which a species persists. Species have certain traits that are uniquely adapted to the ecological niche. A trait is a measurable property, phenotype, or characteristic of an organism that may influence its survival. Genes play an important role in the development and environmental expression of traits. Species develop and evolve traits that are fitted to the selection pressures of their local environment. The habitat plus the niche is called the ecotope. It includes all the environmental and biological factors affecting an entire species.

Niche construction: The regulatory feedback between organisms and their environment can affect conditions from local to global level. The process and concept of ecosystem engineering is called niche construction. An example of natural selection through ecosystem engineering occurs in the nests of social insects, including ants, bees, wasps, and termites. Termite mounds use air-conditioning chimneys to maintain a constant internal temperature through the design. The structure of the nests is subject to the forces of natural selection.