Defined Words: niche, diversification, ecosystem
The concept is simple but its effects are widespread. We’ll start by defining our terms. A niche refers to the place that an organism can live within an ecosystem. Diversification refers to the process by which similar individuals develop different traits and continue to foster those new traits so much that the individuals become vastly different from each other.
It is easiest to think of a niche as the specific role that needs to be fulfilled within an ecosystem. And by ecosystem, I don’t only mean the kind in biology. An ecosystem could refer to a social group and the niche is the role that you play within it; are you the organized one, the spacey one, or maybe the adventurous one?
It could also refer to the marketplace as businesses find a specific role to thrive in; which age demographic will your business target with your next marketing campaign? Niches can range from the original biological term (the habitat and place in the food web of an organism) to specific requirements of a new diet trend (protein in the morning and snack on carbohydrates throughout the day.) The only requirement of a niche is that it is able to be filled by many possible variables.
Diversification is a product of competition. Since resources are limited and not all individuals can compete for the same niche, competitors that are not best suited for one specific niche will be forced to reconsider their attributes in order to find another niche that it can populate. Again, this happens to any individuals that are involved in a competition with others.
A town might diversify to export more sheep instead of corn because a nearby town began exporting corn at half the cost. A kid who is not great at playing chess might find a better fit with soccer. A hip hop artist who is tired of the same beats might diversify and use instruments from other genres to stand out among his competitors.
Whenever an individual finds its way into a new ecosystem, the individual has the opportunity to open new niches due to its unique adaptation. Social media companies were only able to spring up because of the adaptation of the internet. Different professions could be conceived and performed given a steady food source from the adaptation of agriculture.
An adaptation of jawed fish allowed organisms the ability to eat larger prey; those organisms could then grow to larger sizes and consume larger organisms. In each of these examples, the game-changing adaptation opened up a new field of niches that could be explored by individuals that diversified beyond the adaptation.
The world is constantly changing, and so are you. In order to find your true niche in the world, you must first take stock of your personal adaptations. What are you good at? What are you bad at? How can you utilize your specific skill set to create your own niche?
Sometimes we use the word “purpose,” other times we say that the world is a stage and we are all characters. Regardless of the word you use, looking back on your own experiences will allow you to realize your purpose, character, or niche.