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So I am aware of this question, which deals with large plants (trees) and animals, but I am interested in adaptations present in smaller animals on this planet, and how those might be stretched in a way that would lead not only to surviving a hurricane, but thriving because of it. I know that it's a sudden event, but I am looking to build a place that gets hit by hurricanes or monsoons often enough (even more than prone areas on this planet) that it may be evolutionarily essential.

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  • $\begingroup$ Would this have anything to do with Irma? $\endgroup$ – user15036 Sep 8 '17 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @TheoclesofSaturn In a way, yes. It was an abandoned idea of mine, and I have lived in FL all my life, in various parts of the state. It's inspired in part by an agriculture question I saw earlier as well, even though this is about evolutionary tracks, and because the impending hurricane made me think of it. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Sep 9 '17 at 0:32
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Rain of animals.

There is enough written about rains of small animals that I think it must sometimes really happen. I can imagine an ecosystem where small animals depended on hurricanes for dispersal. For example, consider freshwater animals that live in widely separated small lakes and ponds. Perhaps these lakes are not permanent, with some occasionally drying up and new ones forming. Fish or frogs would not on their own be able to traverse the dry land (or saltwater?) between suitable ponds and colonize new ponds. Storms that sweep up these small animals could carry them to new regions and drop them off, where some could found new populations in previously uncolonized ponds.

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For plants to survive a hurricane, it would be similar to a fire. The most obvious means is being fast growing so once the competition has been taken out, the fastest growing plants get the most sunlight. The other option is to be resistant. If the plant is flexible, it can lay down in the strong winds and stand back up once over.

For animals, they need to be able to take shelter. Smaller animals would have an easier time inside a burrow. Larger animals would be best if were migratory, moving out of the area during hurricane season and returning when safe.

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Plants: Seed dispersal. This seems like an obvious answer. Those winds will spread seeds easily, even up the coast as the hurricane travels.

For animals, any event that reduces competition from greater beasts, allows smaller beasts to rule. Small mammals survived the asteroid event that killed dinosaurs. Those small mammals gave rise to ... us.

Hurricanes can do similar things on local scales - change the competition for resources.

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Look at the adaptations small animals, insects and birds have on Islands prone to cyclone.

Birds often lose the ability to fly, insects change shapes and habitats, some change domicile during the cyclone season, some birds lay their eggs on the ground instead of trees. There are countless adaptations that you could use.

Fruit bats that usually roost in trees roost close to the ground in sheltered brush etc,.

For en extreme adaptation take the emperor penguin who stands with it's egg and then it's chick on it's feet for months through gales that may last a week. Having the ability to do this means it has no predators to worry about until well after the eggs are hatched and the chicks can fend for themselves.

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Plants:

  • Be a potato, or at least store some energy and nutriments in the roots. If the hurricane flattens everything, this gives you an early start to grow fast against other plants which have to start from seed, or can't regrow well after the main trunk was broken.

  • Develop extensive root systems to fix the topsoil in place to make sure it isn't carried away by the flood.

  • Have a wind-resistant form (lots of thin, flexible trunks compared to a single, taller one which is more likely to break); mangrove is an example.

  • Be able to survive underwater for a while until the flood clears.

  • Survivalist plant cuttings: every leaf that is torn off by the wind will land somewhere. Some plants grow very well from leaf cuttings. Others don't.

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I'm not sure if this is what you're after, but I weathered Irma in Florida... During the storm I was forced to go outside to smoke so I had an opportunity to watch the ducks and squirrels. They seemed to weather the storm just fine, by just doing their usual things.

When the wind got really high I noticed a squirrel gripping the tree on the leeward side, using the trunk of the tree as a wind break. The ducks just seemed to huddle together on the ground and faced into the wind so that their feathers didn't ruffle.

The next morning I went out to find that even the baby ducklings had survived.

I think the animal kingdom tends to do better than humans in these situations, because they're not dependant on infrastructure to survive. When it rains they get wet, when it's windy they get blown around a bit, but other than that they're good with it.

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    $\begingroup$ any story where ducklings are in peril but survive...+1 $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Oct 12 '17 at 14:52

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