Ecosystems: Niches

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11381

Do you have a certain job in your home? What if you don't do it? What if everyone were a plumber or teacher? Watch how animals have special jobs in their habitats, then make business cards for them!

categories

Life Science

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

What is a "niche"? Is it something you scratch? 

A niche is a specific role an organism has in its environment.

In the last lesson in this series, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about habitats. You know that a habitat is the physical place where an organism lives. An example of a habitat is a burrow in the rocky desert were a fennec fox lives. The burrow and the small area surrounding the fox's burrow are part of the fox's habitat.

fox in burrow

The fennec fox that lives in the burrow has a niche, too! A niche is its role, or job, in the area where it lives. A fennec fox's special job might be to control the population of mice. Fennec foxes eat the mice; therefore, the mouse population doesn't grow and grow and grow! This keeps the mouse population at stable levels.

What would happen to the mouse population if there were no fennec foxes in the desert? Tell a parent or teacher.

You're right! With no predators, the mouse population would skyrocket! There would be too many mice eating all the desert plants. Do you think the desert plants would be able to survive if tons of mice were eating them? Tell a parent or teacher.

No, the plants would not be able to survive and grow. The mouse population would eat all the plants.

See how every animal has a role in its ecosystem? Without certain animals, the ecosystem would become unbalanced.

mouse

Another great example of a niche is a honeybee living in a meadow. Honeybees pollinate flowers. Flowers need honeybees to survive and reproduce. Honeybees help flowers reproduce. Honeybees fly from flower to flower with pollen on them. When they land on other flowers, they bring the pollen from other flowers with them. This helps flowers produce seeds and reproduce. Without bees, we wouldn't have apples, cherries, pumpkins, and cucumbers!

bee pollinating flower

Now that you know what a niche is, what's your niche? Think about some of the things you do. Do you help your mother food shop? Do you take out the garbage at your house? What is your role in your community? Discuss this with a parent or teacher.

When you are finished, move on to the next section.

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