Niche as a Species Position in a Community Formalization of Ecological Niche Concept

The emphasis on the diversity of ecological communities and interspecific competition among them in the second half of the twentieth century has led to the formalization of the niche concept, and an emphasis on the properties of the niches which enable species coexistence within a habitat. George Evelyn Hutchinson postulated that niche is a 'hypervolume' in multidimensional ecological space, determined by a species' requirements to reproduce and survive. Each dimension in the niche space represents an environmental variable potentially or actually important for a species persistence. These variables are both abiotic and biotic, and can be represented by simple physical quantities as temperature, light intensity, or humidity, but also more sophisticated quantities such as soil texture, ruggedness of the terrain, vegetation complexity, or various measures of resource characteristics. This could be viewed simply as a formalization of original Grinnellian niche, that is, the exact descriptions of a species habitat requirements. However, in the Hutchinsonian view, ecological niches are dynamic, as the presence of one species constrains the presence of another species by interspecific competition, modifying the position of species' niches within the multidimensional space. This concept therefore combines the ecological requirements of the species with its functional role in the local community.

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