Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  ecological niche1
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the entirety of environmental factors that tend to suit and allow an animal or plant species to survive in its habitat, the microhabitat in which a particular population lives and way that it exploits the microhabitat
Main Entry:  ecological niche2
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the role that an animal or plant species plays in the environment, the status of an organism within its environment which affects its survival
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

ecological niche definition


The place or function of a given organism within its ecosystem.

Note: Different organisms may compete for the same niche. For example, in a forest there may be a niche for an organism that can fly and eat nectar from blossoms. This niche may be filled by some sort of bird, or an insect, or even a mammal such as a bat.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Coyotes became top dog, filling the wolf's ecological niche.
The only ecological niche humans as a whole have monopolised is being mentally
  dissatisfied with the status quo.
They take advantage of every ecological niche, growing crops in valleys and
  grazing llamas and alpacas on to bleak mountaintops.
Hare thinks bonobos became domesticated by occupying an ecological niche that
  favored selection for less aggressive tendencies.
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