Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Generally, a niche is a special place within the scheme of things. It sometimes denotes the function or position of a thing within a structure. Niche is an English word of French origin.
The niche in classical architecture is an exedra or an apse that has been reduced in size, retaining the half-dome heading usual for an apse. Nero's Domus Aurea (AD 64-69) was the first semi-private dwelling that possessed rooms that were given richly varied floor plans, shaped with niches and exedras; sheathed in dazzling polished white marble, such curved surfaces concentrated or dispersed the daylight.
In Gothic architecture a niche may be set within a tabernacle framing, like a richly-decorated miniature house ("aedicule "), such as might serve for a reliquary. Backings for altars in churches ("reredos") can be embedded with niches for statues. Though a niche in either Classical or Gothic context may be empty and merely provide some articulation and variety to a section of wall, the cult origins of the niche suggested that it be filled with a statue. In Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna (illustration, right) the ]] niche frames her as with the canopy of estate that was positioned over a personnage of importance in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe. At the same time, the Madonna is represented as an iconic sculpture who has "come alive" with miraculous immediacy.
Main article: Ecological niche
In ecology, a niche would be the position occupied by an organism (or group of organisms) within an ecosystem or the conditions making possible a habitat. The conditions needed to survive for an organism is a niche and other competing organisms affect this. This niche defines the organism's role in the ecological community. A niche here implies a speciesí ability to survive. Adaptability of a species is important to what niche it can hold.
Different species can hold similar niches in different locations and same species may occupy different niche in different locations. The Australian grasslands grass species, though different from those of the Great Plains grasslands, occupy the same niche. Once a niche is left vacant other organism can fill into that position. The niche that was left vacant by the extinction of the tarpan has been filled by other animals (inparticular a small horse breed, the konik). Plants and animals, though perfectly suited to their environmental niche in their home country, can sometimes become a serious pest when taken to a different location.
A niche can also be a situation or an activity perfectly suited to a person. A niche can imply a working position or an area suited to a person who occupies it. Basically, a job where a person is able to succeed and thrive.
See also niche marketing.
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