The ecological niche and the n-dimensional hypervolume

Natural curiosities

I want to share a story about how a new idea can originate in a chance hallway conversation. The story is about ecological niches.

When you think about a niche, you might imagine something like you see here in the city of Samarkand: the Mirza-Uluk-Bek in the Registan (one of the first color photographs).

niche

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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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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