How do you go about boosting an already-habitable planet's habitability? I want to maximize biomass, hopefully cover the whole planet surface in luxuriant jungles and forests, brimming with insects, animals and (hopefully) megafauna, while the oceans are alive with kelp, invertebrates and fish of all shapes and sizes, all growing (if possible) at a greatly accelerated pace.

Optional extra info :

The Ssiws people want to make their (Earth-like) planet super-habitable (mostly for the purpose of roughing it out outdoors with the mega-beasts such an amped-up world will support, all in a potentially misguided attempt to feel more alive than in their ultra-safe orbital habitats). Incidentally, it's also good publicity for their main export IP product, the Ssiws Army Knife®. They have hired a famous eco-poetess, Deirdre Skye, and gave her essentially a carte-blanche on the planet, and the full might of their fabled zero-point drives to make it all happen reasonably fast.

Note: To my mind, the obvious criterion for a good answer would be a listing of plausible actions (artificially sustained if need be, but keep it realistic) that would boost the total $biomass$ and $biodiversity$ to the max. I'm open to being convinced of better criteria.

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    $\begingroup$ Canon basic habitability reference, since it may be relevant. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ You might also consider changing the landscape. I think having a lot of not-too-steep hills might increase the surface of arable land compared to the dull plains. Plus. it makes a nice scenery. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ Would that be a good answer? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe but i don't think it's necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 0:22
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    $\begingroup$ Equatorial rain-forests have the highest biodiversity on Earth. Maybe they could do something better but having this kind of forest spamming on all the planet is already an achievement. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


Ok, to do this, you're going to need to do some major-league planetary redesign work. In order to get lots of life, you need lots of water. Deserts are the areas with the least diversity and biomass, so they have got to go. Where mountains are causing rain shadows, knock them down to size. Where rain is falling but the clouds are not being replenished fast enough to water the downwind areas enough, build intermediary seas. It would take quite a bit of digging, but you have that zero-point drive after all, and it shouldn't take too long.

Another step you'll need to take along the way is to increase the atmospheric carbon content a little, without causing an excessive greenhouse effect - the global temperature is just fine as it is, thank you very much. Again, it is fortunate that you have the Zero Point Drive, so that as you un-sequester all that geo-sequestered carbon, you can move the world further away from the sun so that the increased greenhouse effect is countered by reduced solar influx. Take it easy with this step, you don't want too much more carbon dioxide suffocating your animals, nor do you want to reduce solar influx too much.

As the plants that you're growing sequester the carbon you've been digging up, you'll need to gradually dig up some more carbon. That's right, get it all out of the ground and into nice, living plants. Keep the atmospheric CO2 within bounds though.

Another issue is Oxygen - you'll want more of it. Fortunately, as you're increasing the biomass of photosynthetic organisms, producing a bit more shouldn't be too hard, and you can help it along if you want. Increasing Oxygen from 20% to 30% or so would do wonders for producing megafauna. Make sure that you aerate the seas nicely too. With that extra oxygen, bushfires will be a bit more frequent, but that will serve to help the carbon cycle keep going without too much getting sequestered again. It will keep your animals on their toes or other locomotory appendages too.

Now you have water everywhere you need it, more oxygen and extra carbon going into plants and animals, the next step is biodiversity. Fortunately, you have Deirdre Skye, who the OP's previous questions have established as an expert genetic engineer. Having performed the first steps, you'll actually have set yourself up to lose some biodiversity, so just genetically engineer the desert organisms so that they can tolerate more water. Once that's done, start in on other species, and make a few variations of each. Mix and match traits and set the critters loose to fight it out amongst themselves to see who gets to survive. Inject enough genetic variation within a species, and you'll probably find the species splitting all by itself as the widely divergent members begin to evolve in different directions.

Megafauna are easy to achieve if you have an expert genetic engineer on hand, though they aren't usually the fastest-breeding critters - at least if they are mammals. How about a few species of Giant Land Crab instead, you know, engineered to weigh in at around the one-ton range and eat pretty much whatever they can get their claws on? They breed in water, so they can have thousands of larvae out at sea, growing on a diet of plankton to a size sufficient to climb out onto land and begin eating everything. You might have to change their oxygen carrier and their circulation, but that's just a little thing, really.

I don't know about accelerated growth, some life-forms grow pretty fast already, and biological process are only so fast, you know, you can't make them much faster without chucking the whole lot out and starting again from scratch, and I'm sure that you don't want to spend that amount of time repopulating your biosphere. The extra oxygen should pep things up a little, anyway.


Planet Size

Larger planetary size for more land area. Keep density such that surface gravity is still 9.8 m/s^2. A larger planet provides more surface area to work with.


Very old world with little remaining tectonic activity, this shrinks the size of the mountain ranges through erosion and reduces land lost to rain shadows.


More land area but with lots of coastline. Eliminate broad intra-continent areas (cut down on deserts). The advanced age of the planet also means that erosion has had plenty of time wear down the mountain ranges into tall hills. This also means more slow river deltas and swamps to grow semi-aquatic megafauna.


More oxygen, more CO2, less nitrogen. More oxygen means more fuel for life. Increased CO2 levels also increase the average surface temperatures. About 30C Let's keep atmospheric pressure the same as Earth.

Air Temperature

Higher surface temperatures. Higher CO2 concentrations achieve this. Life tends to grow more prolifically when it doesn't have to devote resources to staying warm.

Rotation Speed

Slower rotation for longer days and larger Hadley cells.

Many of the world's deserts are located in these subtropical latitudes

...where the Hadley cell descends and begins to move back towards the warmer areas.


Keep a single moon scaled to keep equivalent effects as earth gets from the moon. Having a moon sustains tides which have proved very useful for evolution and biodiversity.


Because of the factors listed above, this planet should amply sustain a tremendous amount of life ranging from single-celled organisms all the way up to mega fauna in the form of giant snakes, crocodiles and probably dinosaurs (or dinosaur like). Every approach to life that exists in Earth's jungles would exist here too.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds a bit like the Custom Civ V setup, doesn't it? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ I only played Civ II. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:47

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