Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosystems

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Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosystems

Postby Grass4hopper » Wed May 07, 2014 9:36 pm

Throughout history settlers have take local animals to their new home. The pig especially comes to mind, with European colonist bringing it to the Americas, and Polynesian societies often taking pigs as they expanded across the Pacific.

It seem likely that SU colony expeditions would sometimes bring along similar animals to release into the wild of their planet. either from Earth or one of the new life forms developed for the Martian environment. Assuming that the planet can support life adapted for Earth/Mars it could be an easy food source.

Honestly pigs seem like an ideal candidate again.

Thoughts?
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Foghammer » Thu May 08, 2014 3:25 pm

I don't expect that the people of the future will stop loving bacon, no matter what illnesses and poisons future science warns them of.

Because come on...

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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Soren » Thu May 08, 2014 6:47 pm

Pigs are smart and trainable. If you live on a world with a toxic native biosphere, you'd probably have an easier time training pigs not to eat it than anything else. This could present some problems for people who have religious or dietary reasons for avoiding pork, though.

Goats have very robust digestive systems and could become a terraforming mechanism in their own right a la Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman books, where (I suspect genetically modified) goats are used to (slowly) process an intermediate ecosystem into an Earthly biome. Goats also produce drinkable milk and have spinnable hair - they're like Swiss Army Ruminants.

Sheep and chickens are both quite versatile animals, and the lure of eggs, milk, and wool will probably see them brought along as well. But we can get more exotic; rabbits and cui (guinea pigs - yes, really) are conveniently small and have very tasty meat, which makes them attractive for feeding space colonies or sealed planetary colonies. So there are lots of options.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby gusindor » Thu May 08, 2014 7:27 pm

That opens a (possibly literal) can of worms that sounds like lots of fun to play with.

Is it plausible that rats or other small vermin-type critters could stowaway on colony ships? On the one hand, people probably keep a very close watch on what goes on board. On the other hand, on such a big ship a few rats are so small they might go completely overlooked.

If Earthlings are exporting plants and animals, does that ever go the other way, with colonists sending back useful or interesting new things they find?

Are there any kudzu-like situations? One would hope people would be careful to avoid that, but mistakes happen.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Grass4hopper » Sat May 10, 2014 10:30 pm

I just thought about sea life. I'm not familiar enough with fish to guess at ideal species, but that would be a great food source for planets with water oceans or seas.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby mraichelson » Sat May 10, 2014 10:37 pm

Grass4hopper wrote:I just thought about sea life. I'm not familiar enough with fish to guess at ideal species, but that would be a great food source for planets with water oceans or seas.

In the Forever War series of books they talk at one point about how they manage to feed everyone on a starship for an extended period of time. Internal greenhouses and aquaculture were two of the keys to it. Didn't really talk about if it was something they would use to try to seed bodies of water on a destination planet (in the context of those books by the time the characters were headed somewhere it had already been colonized and built up anyway).
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Red_Robot » Sun May 11, 2014 3:25 am

gusindor wrote:If Earthlings are exporting plants and animals, does that ever go the other way, with colonists sending back useful or interesting new things they find?

Are there any kudzu-like situations? One would hope people would be careful to avoid that, but mistakes happen.


The colony of Gursk outlined in the MFZ:RA rulebook is a colony that almost exclusively ships out native biota in the form of the alien grain, wholecorn. When a genetically pure sample of the grain gets smuggled out of the colony, other colonies can replicate it and the economy of Gursk has an economic collapse.

Also mentioned in the section on Gursk is that to keep their foodcrop from being replicated, the colony "genetically scrambled" the outgoing grain. Capability of doing this, and also just the danger posed to billions of people if a new "andromeda strain" style disease makes it back to Earth, seems to me to present a context that transport through transit gates involves fairly thorough decontamination procedures.

I am sure that some colonies are selected for terraforming and ecological grooming, and others are selected because their unique ecosystem offers valuable biodiversity that can be used by bioengineers back on Mars. In the latter case, ecological diversity would need to be conserved. Ecosystems are so awesomely complex though, that even the simplest action could have unforseen consequences, both good or ill.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Grass4hopper » Sun May 11, 2014 9:11 am

Red_Robot wrote:I am sure that some colonies are selected for terraforming and ecological grooming, and others are selected because their unique ecosystem offers valuable biodiversity that can be used by bioengineers back on Mars. In the latter case, ecological diversity would need to be conserved. Ecosystems are so awesomely complex though, that even the simplest action could have unforseen consequences, both good or ill.


I completely agree that it's almost always a terrible idea to introduce foreign species. The pig is an invasive species here in North America, and considered a massive pest that has grow far beyond any hope of containment. There are similar examples all over the world.

However I can see that on a colony selected for mining or some other non-biological resource, that solar system fauna/flora might be introduced, "environmental consequences be damned". It would vary from colony to colony, but if all the transit corporation cares about is gather and exporting X, they likely wouldn't care about the environment (like far to many current situations sadly).
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby The Hydromancer » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:30 pm

Grass4hopper wrote:I just thought about sea life. I'm not familiar enough with fish to guess at ideal species, but that would be a great food source for planets with water oceans or seas.


Maybe I should change my handle to 'The Necromancer'....

So through much research (Atomic Rocket and Wikipedia are your friends!) for setting up my own setting, I've stumbled upon some gems I'd like to share with you guys. In regards to Grass4hopper's question, apparently there's a reason tuna are referred to as the chicken of the sea. They are a healthy and highly sustainable fish that quickly repopulates as long as you leave enough behind to mate. And they get much bigger than the average layman would suspect. Assuming there's a decent supply of local smaller life forms for them to eat that will neither kill your fish population or the humans eating them, you should be good to go. Personally my colonists will bring along crawfish as well because hey, crawfish boil parties!

As for other animals aside from tuna, Soren makes an excellent point with pigs. They are very intelligent creatures, and in some cases on par with dogs or better. They've been known to safe their owner's lives before. If you are going to a cold climate, bring shaggy boar like pigs with you that can handle the cold. Chickens of course are fantastic for protein and low maintenance. Hell we've been engineering chickens for decades now, by the time we reach space we might be able to use them for transportation as well! Just imagine... space Chocobos....

I imagine any colony ship that sets out will have a Eden Kit full of some standard flora and fauna that are helpful for feeding your folks. Atomic Rocket points out the wonders of bamboo, and if you've never read up on it I suggest you do. Build with it, eat it, enrich your soil, its stupid fast, etc its wonders never end! Now that the cat is out of the bag with wholecorn, I imagine its included as a standard plant as well since its so good for you ( I wonder how amazing wholecorn beer would be!). I'd also throw almonds and peaches in there. Almonds are pretty good for you, and you can make healthier milk from them than you can get from a cow, and peaches because Duh.

A final interesting idea, another raised by Atomic rocket but is especially appealing for the setting, is how to transport your animals to the colony. Since mass is such an issue, simply take a large number of fertilized eggs of the species you need. If you don't have an article womb machine handy to grow them when you arrive, simply bring a small number of mature adults that the eggs can be inserted into. Perhaps these brood mothers are genetically engineered to be baby factories with extra wombs and streamlined short pregnancies.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby gusindor » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:13 pm

The Hydromancer wrote:As for other animals aside from tuna, Soren makes an excellent point with pigs. They are very intelligent creatures, and in some cases on par with dogs or A final interesting idea, another raised by Atomic rocket but is especially appealing for the setting, is how to transport your animals to the colony. Since mass is such an issue, simply take a large number of fertilized eggs of the species you need. If you don't have an article womb machine handy to grow them when you arrive, simply bring a small number of mature adults that the eggs can be inserted into. Perhaps these brood mothers are genetically engineered to be baby factories with extra wombs and streamlined short pregnancies.

Right, because that's a thing science can do now, and it's even simpler to do it with plant seeds. That does seem like an efficient solution, although having meat/milk/eggs/etc. available during the trip might be worth the expense of bringing live animals.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby whiteboye37 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:48 pm

why not both? (dancing/partying ensues)

as for the pigs being released into the wild disrupting the course of the current ecosystem, what if we introduced pigs and smaller animals as well as a few apex predators? like mountain lions, hawks, stuff like that to help in the balencing act? now i know in science we must change 1 variable at a time to test for results however we already know that changing anything will impact the nature of what is already set in place. with the natural predators added as well it helps trim the fat. Thoughts?

also there would be a need for building up the bottom as well. like plankton and stuff for the oceans and maybe plants/worms/bugs/bats/birds and stuff to make up a food chain. the more i type it sounds like im creating a whole new ecosystem but truely when outside influences go into an ecosystem everything changes and ggets messed up so maybe by adding a little bit across the board would maybe balence it all out
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby The Hydromancer » Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:18 am

As for the initial colony ships, I'd imagine they would rely more on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), than living animals. After all the first trip should be fairly short, perhaps a few months depending on the accuracy of the jump which granted isn't as good without a gate to receive you. MREs are full of calories and compactly designed to take up minimal space. It just takes a little water to kick start the chemical reaction for the heating component, and you are good to go. Hell, you could piss into the heating baggy and it would work just fine. If you've seen the first episode of Firefly, they had a great future version of MREs that were compressed into a single bar that I believe was capable of feeding a small family for a week. They'd be great as far as mass-to-energy ratios go, considering every gram costs money. I could easily see a wholecorn version of these MRE 'bars' being part of every colonization effort. Consider that all the animals you bring are more mouths to feed and take care of, only increasing your costs and labor required. Also consider how well they'd handle entering a gravity well and the ride down. I'd hate to pull cleaning duty in whatever space barn they are harnessed in after touchdown. I'd rather clean up after a few brood mothers than a herd.

As for introducing predators, bare in mind that we aren't necessarily trying to recreate a mirror image of Earth's ecosystem. Instead, the colonists would be cherry picking the best elements required for them to survive. This means animals to eat, and the plants to feed said animals and yourselves. Its not like you are going to be releasing them all in the wild either. Any flora or fauna brought will most likely be used in farms and ranches. The settlers will have enough to worry about on their own with just surviving without having to worry about protecting their livestock (or themselves for that matter) from predators. If your world already has a ecosystem with predators that's another matter entirely. Bare in mind as well, you would be paying obscene amounts of money to import predators for no other purpose than to kill the other animals you spent an equally obscene amount of money to important. That's a losing proposition no matter how you do the math. Importing them to deal with local nuisances might make a little more sense, but in that case it would make more sense to bring in something akin to sheep dogs or their kind that you would trust to guard your farms and ranches. My colony brought along the embryos for the SC0245 descendants of the modern American Alsatian, otherwise known as a dire wolf. To quote MtG, "In Ravnica do the wolves guard the flock."

Its very impressive what modern deep space observation can reveal about exo-planets. You can only imagine how much more refined a colonization selection process would be by SC0245. Not only would we narrow our focus to inhabitable worlds, but ones that would seem to be more ideal for our form of life. After all, the less terraforming you have to do the better, and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper to terraform a near Earth into a good enough Earth than starting off with a dead rock. Unless there's a reason you want to terraform the rock, but I digress. In my particular setting the colonists enact a slash and burn policy on the island at the site of their landing on a near Earth, choosing to first focus on creating a beachhead to support the colony before even considering trying to terraform the rest of the planet to be compatible with Terran life forms. They might not even want to terraform the rest if there isn't a really need to, assuming enough foodstuffs can be raised on the island base. Remember every major decision made on the colony will usually come down to a cost vs effectiveness choice. Is it really worth the time, resources, and labor to terraform an entire ecosystem if you are just worried about mining most of the planet out?

As for preservation issues like the kudzu example raised, there are some very important matters to keep in mind. For a band of colonists serving as the first settlers of a brand new world, creating an endangered species list and then enforcing it is probably not even on their lists of things to do, let alone on the bottom of it. Their primary goal in life will be the survival and themselves and their children. Getting the raw goods that the Sol System so desperately needs through the gate would be an important and often harped on second, and actually turning a profit one day will be a distant, possibly unattainable goal depending on what kind of crazy obstacles the colony runs into. They'll likely lack the man power to spare if they even did want to catalogue all the various new species an alien world would have to offer, let alone study their habits and vulnerabilities in depth. Also keep in mind the relatively small human populations these colonies would support. If you have only a few tens or hundreds of million folks spread around population centers across your planet(toid), your impact on the over all environment will likely be miniscule. That's not to say the local environment around said population centers wouldn't be potentially devastated due to extreme practices, but again you go back to the whole us vs them issue. I'm not trying to say that the ethical issues aren't there, but to badly paraphrase Heinlein, 'before you can make any arguments about what is and isn't ethical, first you must truly understand humanity, and what it means to do what is necessary for our continuing survival.' Honestly, most concerns about the local flora and fauna will probably always boil down to two; is it dangerous to me and mine, and can I exploit it?

The Bottom Line for any company is king, and the hope of turning any colony into a thriving, self sustaining bastion of humanity is a fringe benefit hope dream that is completely secondary to turning the biggest and fastest possible profit you can before the market leaves you in its dust. Naturally the corporate big wigs and the colonists actually working in the field might have some seriously conflicting views on which one of those goals should be priority, but its only if the colony becomes wealthy enough to import luxury goods as they so rarely do that the settlers will ever have a serious ability to import species of plants and animals, terran or otherwise, that do not directly contribute to the survival and profit of the colony.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:37 pm

There are few problems that can't be solved with the judicious application of cane toads.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby gusindor » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:55 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:There are few problems that can't be solved with the judicious application of cane toads.

Wait, what?
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby The Hydromancer » Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:01 pm

An increase to 105,517 pop in 17 months from an initial pop of 150 is no mean feat. Seems like these lil buggers have a lot of uses, although the whole poison enough to kill a man bit could be an issue.
Water is patient.
Water just waits.
Wears down the cliff tops, the mountains.
The whole of the world.
Water always wins.

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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby rudemech » Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:44 am

I've got about twenty in my back yard at the moment. Anybody want one?

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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby The Hydromancer » Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:55 am

Sounds like you have everything you need for your own startup then. I'd buy a toad leather jacket that could poison my enemies.
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Water just waits.
Wears down the cliff tops, the mountains.
The whole of the world.
Water always wins.

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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Viper Tesla » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:58 am

... the running gag in the Tripitakan Setting isn't so much wholecorn as it is colonies of Chinchillas... but that's because I have a soft spot for space mice (Voltron) and own a fuzzy baby. Although he's being an annoyingly noisy inmate at the moment. <_<
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby CmdrRook » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:07 am

Viper Tesla wrote:... the running gag in the Tripitakan Setting isn't so much wholecorn as it is colonies of Chinchillas... but that's because I have a soft spot for space mice (Voltron) and own a fuzzy baby. Although he's being an annoyingly noisy inmate at the moment. <_<


Oh, the rants I could go on about Chinchillas, Pandas, and Kakapos. At least Chinchillas have the whole reproduction thing down, but practically every facet of their life needs to be in perfect balance or else they up and die.
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Re: Introducing Terran and Martian Fauna to Colonial Ecosyst

Postby Viper Tesla » Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:38 am

Mine is pretty fearless. He must think his gristle and fluff is indestructible.
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