The first formulations of the concept of ecological niche were close to the general meaning of the term: the ecological niche was defined by the place a species can take in nature, determined by its abiotic requirements, food preferences, microhabitat characteristics (e.g., a foliage layer), diurnal and seasonal specialization, or predation avoidance. This concept is associated mostly with Joseph Grinnell, who first introduced the term. He was especially interested in factors determining where we can find a given species and how niches, generated by the environment, are filled. The knowledge of a species niche determined by its habitat requirements is essential for understanding and even predicting its geographic distribution; this concept of the niche is thus more relevant in biogeography and macroecology than in community or ecosystem ecology.
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