Fundamental vs Realized Niche: Difference and Comparison

The term fundamental and realized talk about the condition in which animals live, but many other things prove that they are very different from each other.

Key Takeaways

  1. The fundamental niche refers to the entire set of environmental conditions that a species can potentially occupy.
  2. The realized niche, on the other hand, is the actual set of environmental conditions where a species exists due to biotic interactions.
  3. The realized niche is smaller than the fundamental niche and can be influenced by competition, predation, and other biotic factors.

Fundamental vs. Realized Niche

A fundamental niche is the environmental conditions where a species can live without competition. They can live and reproduce in this niche. Realized niche describes creatures that survive by adapting to their environment and battling it out with other species.

Fundamental vs Realized niche
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The term fundamental niche is defined as the fullest condition through which an animal population species can reproduce and survive.

It is a set of conditions mainly used by pop species after being interacted with by other species (competition and predation), which have been considered. One example of a fundamental niche is the sparrow in the forest.

The term realized niche is considered smaller or limited than the fundamental niche. For example, once an invasive species is introduced into the ecosystem, it will always compete with an existing species to get space, food, and other resources.

So, the realized niche of an existing species can change and may vary from the fundamental niche.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFundamental nicheRealized niche
MeaningThe term fundamental niche is defined as an entire set of conditions through which an animal can live and reproduce.The term realized niche is a set of conditions mainly used by the animal after interacting with other species.
WideThe fundamental niche is considered to be a larger niche than the realized niche.
Realized niche is considered to be a subset of the fundamental niche.
NatureThe fundamental niche has a natural habitat. Realized niches consider having various factors, human activities, availability of natural food resources, and predator presence.
Species live inSpecies do not live in a fundamental niche.
Species live in the realized niche.
AdaptionSpecies rarely found a fundamental niche for adaptation.Species are well adapted to the realized niches as they get realized niches very often.
Ecology partA fundamental niche describes the ecological part of the species.Realized niche describes the ecology part which species do.

What is Fundamental Niche?

The fundamental niche is defined as different species’ positions in the ecosystem or environmental condition. The fundamental niche is the span of the environmental condition where all species survive.

It elaborates on the role of the species in the environment. It also refers to a span of conditions, resources with which animals grow, survive, and reproduce, and roles. This fundamental niche tells the experience of the species and how it handles a particular condition.

A group of species can use and occupy the full span of environmental conditions. It is considered to be a larger niche than the realized niche. The realized niche can be considered as a subset of the fundamental niche.

It is also referred to as the potential niche that could affect each species’ life traits and every organism- how they talk to another species and how they bear different environmental conditions.

fundamental niche

What is Realized Niche?

The term realized niche is defined as the range in the environmental condition in which all groups of species live. The realized niche elaborates on what the animal does in the ecosystem. It grows, and it is a subset of a fundamental niche.

It is believed that when species interact with other species and get pressured by the other species, the realized niche is formed. In realized niche, the animal is well adopted, and thus species are well adapted. 

Whether it is the lion or the bacteria, every species has to face competition from the other species. It is difficult when it is a direct form of competition. If a hyenas competition lion moves in, then it will concern hyenas.

It is a direct form of competition in an ecological niche called interspecific competition. The actual niche filled in the interspecific competition is called the realized niche.

realized niche

Main Differences Between Fundamental Niche and Realized Niche

  1. Both fundamental and realized niches express different species’ environmental conditions or positions in the ecosystem.
  2. The term fundamental niche is an entire set of conditions through which an animal can live and reproduce. On the other hand, a realized niche is a set of conditions mainly used by the animal after interacting with other species.
  3. The fundamental niche is also called a pre-competitive niche. On the other hand, the realized niche is also posting a competitive niche.
  4. A fundamental niche is a type of theoretical niche. On the other hand, the realized niche is the range where species live.
  5. The fundamental niche has no competition for resources or predators. On the other hand, a realized niche is a range where competition occurs for both resources and predators.
  6. The fundamental niche is large or wide in size. On the other hand, the realized niche is smaller in size.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 19T091349.831
References
  1. Realized versus fundamental niche functions in a model of chaparral response to climatic change
  2. Realized and potential climate niches: a comparison of four Rhododendron tree species

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Fundamental vs Realized Niche: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The competition and predation influence the realized niche, making it smaller than the fundamental niche. Interesting insight.

  2. The comparison table provided is quite helpful in understanding the differences between the fundamental and realized niches. Great article!

  3. The detailed descriptions and examples presented help readers grasp the concepts of fundamental and realized niches effectively. Kudos!

  4. The post effectively conveys the differences between the fundamental and realized niches. I appreciate the clarity it provides.

  5. The article does well to clarify the differences between fundamental and realized niches. It’s an essential read for ecology enthusiasts.

  6. The fundamental niche refers to potential conditions, while the realized niche is the actual conditions where a species exists. Very informative!

    1. The distinction between the fundamental and realized niche is made very clear in this article. It’s a crucial understanding for life sciences.

  7. The ecological relevance of fundamental and realized niches is well-explained in this article. A must-read for those interested in ecology.

  8. Avatar of Roberts Jackson
    Roberts Jackson

    The post was very enlightening and educational. The fundamental and realized niches are crucial concepts to understand in ecology.

    1. Avatar of Imogen Matthews
      Imogen Matthews

      I completely agree with you, Roberts. Understanding these concepts is essential in preserving species and their habitats.

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