I want to share a story about how a new idea can originate in a chance hallway conversation. The story is about ecological niches.
The ecological niche is something different, but draws on the metaphor of a recessed space that can hold something. The concept was primarily popularized by G.E. Hutchinson in the late 1950s, and used to describe species. For him, a niche is
An area is thus defined, each point of which corresponds to a possible environmental state… an n-dimensional hypervolume is defined, every point in which corresponds to a state of the environment which would permit the species.. to exist indefinitely.
This reasonable concept makes intuitive sense: for some set of variables that are important to…
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