Ecological niche modelling

  • IASbaba
  • September 20, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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In News:

  • Researchers at the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh used ecological niche modelling strategies to examine the economically important of spice, saffron.

About Saffron:

  • Crocus sativus, is a flowering plant, propagated through underground stems called corms.
  • It grows best under Mediterranean climate
  • According to latest reports, Iran grows nearly 90% of the worlds saffron.
  • Uses: Adds flavour to food, helps in healing disorders of the nervous system, acts as an anti-depressant, and also shows anti-cancer
  • India produces 5% of the worlds saffron and historically, some of the world’s most prized saffron has been grown in old lake beds of Kashmir.
  • Agro-climatic conditions: well-drained soil of high pH value (6.3 to 8.3), summer temperatures (when flowers develop) of around 25°C and good soil nutrient availability.
  • Average national yield = 2.6 kg per hectare

About ecological niche:

  • An ecological niche is the right set of environmental conditions under which an animal or plant species will thrive. A range of ecological niches can occur within an ecosystem. Biodiversity is the result of these niches being occupied by species that are uniquely suited to them.
  • Desert plants, for example, are suited for dry, arid ecological niches because they have the ability to store water in their leaves. Non-living, or abiotic factors like temperature, amount of available light, soil moisture also affect ecological niches.
  • Due to Climate change, the ability of existing species to hold on to their biogeographic niches may be altered.
  • Effect on Agriculture: Practices and crop choices that have worked well for centuries may no longer be ideal thereby affecting availability of food and nutrients, occurrence of predators and competing species.

About Ecological Niche modelling:

  • It is a predictive tool for identifying new possibilities using computer algorithms such as — new inhabitants for an existing habitat, or new geographical locations where a desirable plant may grow well.
  • It compares data about the environment and makes forecasts about what would be ideal for a given ecological niche.


  • To bridge ecological considerations and economic realities and to examine economic feasibilities within the context of changing ecological scenarios.
  • The study identified 4,200 sq. km. of new areas suitable for saffron cultivation in places in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, North Sikkim, Imphal, Manipur and Tamil Nadu.

The above studies carried by using the following technologies.

Big Data:

  • It refers to extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.
  • It is characterised by 3Vs – Variety, Volume, Velocity

Space shuttle radar topography mission (SRTM):

  • It is an international research effort spearheaded by the S. defence agency and NASA to generate the most complete high-resolution digital topographic database of Earth.
  • SRTM payload was outfitted with two radar antennas using the technique “interferometric synthetic aperture radar”.

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR):

  • It uses pulses of radio waves to create high-resolution images of objects, such as landscapes with comparatively small physical antennas.
  • SAR is typically mounted on a moving platform, such as an aircraft or spacecraft and uses the motion of the radar antenna over a target region to provide finer spatial resolution than conventional stationary beam-scanning radars.
  • The larger the aperture, the higher the image resolution will be.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q1) Which one of the following terms describes not only the physical space occupied by an organism, but also its functional role in the community of organisms?   (2013)

  1. Ecotone
  2. Ecological niche
  3. Habitat
  4. Home range


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