Questions tagged [ecology]

Ecology is the scientific analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment.

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63
votes
9answers
14k views

A 40km diameter alien saucer is floating 2km above the ocean for a long time. What are the effects on the sea ecosytem below?

Twenty years ago, a 40km diameter alien saucer came to Earth, and stopped 2km above the Atlantic ocean, somewhere near the midpoint between Casablanca, Morroco and Natal, Brazil but over international ...
31
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10answers
8k views

Is it a forgone conclusion that any exo-bacteria discovered on an alien, albeit Earth-like planet will be deadly to human life?

Would the discovery of alien bacteria found on even an Earth analog planet preclude the possibility of colonization due to the potentially deadly nature of bacterial/viral infections? Put differently, ...
31
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3answers
6k views

A pack of velociraptors in a modern ecosystem, that would be pretty horrible, right?

So there's been some industrial espionage committed against T-Rex Forever LLC. The method for how they acquired their T-Rexes has been stolen. Terrible Lizards Inc has acquired a mated pair of ...
30
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12answers
6k views

How to wrap the Moon in plastic to make her a giant, supported by the atmospheric pressure, greenhouse

Moon's surface is about thirty million square kilometers large. That's a lot of plastic, but no bigger effort than many other terraforming projects we have discussed. Description: A global bubble ...
28
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3answers
6k views

Wasp hives in a walking corpse. Why would wasps do this?

Just a bit of background: one of my favorite zombie causers is from the Dead Rising video game series. In it, the undead are reanimated by a wasp-like insect that lays eggs in a corpse (I think. It's ...
26
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11answers
5k views

Which plant species would be most likely to recover after a decade of no light?

Presume a decade of darkness, after a several months of steadily shortening daylight. Assume that the temperature and weather patterns remain (inexplicably) fairly unchanged. Ten years later, when ...
26
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6answers
7k views

Can every animal eat most other animals?

An idea for a story I’m working on involves a far away world that was once inhospitable. Scientists - likely alien ones - terraformed it so it could support life (coincidentally, Earth-like life). ...
18
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6answers
3k views

What measures might an ancient civilization take to protect itself from extreme heat?

An ancient human like civilization exists on a planet like our own but warmer, with more deserts and smaller oceans. Climate change is forcing the daytime temperature slowly upwards. What measures ...
18
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3answers
739 views

A World Without Bugs

Winter is finally upon us! With winter comes a delightful break from the year-round torment of bugs flying your face. Winter is cold - as a result, you can peacefully breathe the winter air without ...
17
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14answers
3k views

Retroactively modifying humans for Earth?

I understand, of course, that humans evolved for this exact environment! However, if you could travel back in time 2,000 years and modify our species (without any unintended health consequences), ...
15
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8answers
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How would a free floating ecosystem on an ocean world function?

The world in question is an Earth-sized planet with a deep global ocean and core of water-ice. Given the lack of an accessible sea floor to root oneself to, how would a complex free-floating organism ...
15
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3answers
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What Australian Megafauna Would be Suitable for Domestication, if Any?

Imagine an alternate universe where the aborigines' impact on the Pleistocene Australian ecosystem was much less severe than it was in our timeline, and the Pleistocene megafauna managed to survive ...
15
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4answers
388 views

Where can you find berries that eat people from the inside out?

My low-fantasy setting features the deadly plant known as the wormberry. It produces small berries of a bright-but-overall-undecided color, all of which contain a small, edible seed. They have two ...
12
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2answers
268 views

How big can Europan fish get?

Assumptions: Jupiter's moon Europa has a salty subsurface ocean in contact with a rocky mantle. The ocean is populated by hydrothermal vents produced by tidal heating. Global heat flow is similar to ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Why do Ichisongas hate elephants and hippos?

In the mythology of the Lambas people of Zambia, there is a creature called the Ichisonga. It is a herbivore, and very rhinoceros-like in appearance. Upon hearing a hippopotamus, it allegedly sneaks ...
10
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8answers
3k views

A world with no carnivores

I have, what I hope to be, a fairly simple question. I am designing a planet where there are no carnivores. Assumptions The creatures would all be very complacent and would feed and live in very ...
10
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3answers
2k views

What animals live in mushroom forests?

A followup to this question. In my world, mushroom producing fungi have developed a symbiotic relationship with algae (or cyanobacteria) similar to Prototaxites. These fungi exist alongside all the ...
10
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4answers
235 views

How long would it take for an array of introduced alien fauna to form functional ecosystems on a near-future “Dead Earth”?

Imagine that, in the near future, pollution, overpopulation and war leads to a massive extinction where almost all chordates, some invertebrates and many plants are wiped out. Small, resilient plants, ...
9
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6answers
1k views

Why would common city people want to protect a forest

I have a city on the edge of the sea and an ancient forest. The forest was protected for generations by local rulers but current ruler get bribed by foreign guilds to allow logging. The trees are old ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Is a single stable planetary ecosystem even possible? [duplicate]

Think of some famous outside-of-the-solar-system planets from say, Star Wars. Tatooine. Hoth. They all have something in common: No matter where you land, the landscape is pretty much the same: on ...
9
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4answers
786 views

Realistic Alternatives to Dust: What Else Could Feed a Plankton Bloom?

Phytoplankton are not to be taken for granted. Not only do they form the core of marine food webs around the world, they also release half of the world's oxygen. But phytoplankton, being plant-like ...
8
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4answers
240 views

How to cause a surge in large carnivore diversity, roughly 5-7 million years hence?

I have had an idea for a possible story, where the protagonists are some kind of future, sapient hominid descendants (Not descended from humans; bonobos or gorillas or something). The main premise of ...
8
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3answers
437 views

Will my worlds not be salty enough to support animal life?

I read on the cooking.stackexchange site that all natural salt on Earth was created by seas and oceans, starting with primordial oceans four billion years ago. This got me thinking about my fictional ...
8
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3answers
230 views

Avian adaptation to microgravity and low gravity environments

I like to hear the sound of birds when I travel amongst my orbital and planetary habitats scattered around the outer system. Most of these settlements are very densely populated - what you might ...
8
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2answers
182 views

How would you go about seeding oceans of Europa with adapted Earth life?

How do you go about building a working Earth-like ocean ecosystem from scratch in Europa's subsurface ocean? On Earth, abyssopelagic species have evolved to live more than 6km below the surface. ...
7
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5answers
1k views

Could a Planet's Ecosystem be run by a small variety of animals?

In my world, there's an era when only some 20 visible (big enough to see with the naked eye; all other animal life forms are microscopic) animal types lived on the planet. Mammals such as wolves, ...
7
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8answers
449 views

What would encourage multiple animal species to evolve human features simultaneously?

The setting is fifty-five million years in the future on Earth, with multiple humanoid species that have different ancestors, but share similar characteristics. Their ancestors would be animals that ...
7
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6answers
914 views

Could super-sized and intelligent detrivore aliens exist?

For my story I have an alien species who are detrivore. They are also an intelligent species on par with humans. But many people have pointed out to me that intelligent detrivores don't work, because ...
7
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2answers
1k views

How would coral reefs thrive on this super-earth world?

I have a super-earth world. The surface of the world is shallower due to extra gravity, so shorter mountain ranges and less ocean depths. The world orbits a binary star system at a distance of the ...
7
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4answers
163 views

How to create fictional earth ecosystems with lots of megafauna which can plausibly coexist?

Ecosystems like the african savanna have lots of megafauna which to some extent compete with each other for the same prey/vegetation, but still coexist just fine. So how do I construct similarly ...
7
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3answers
269 views

How do I stop Megalodon from going extinct?

A long time ago, the 60 foot long Megalodon roamed the oceans. Fast forward to 2.6 million years ago and they went extinct. In the story I'm writing Megalodon hasn't gone extinct surviving at least up ...
7
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3answers
411 views

Fertilizing desert in magical medieval world

Suppose there exists a magic-based civilization. Their mining techniques are medieval and their understanding of organic chemistry and biology are on the Enlightenment era level. However, they are ...
7
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3answers
235 views

Can black algae promote a global warming on a cold planet?

My world is at the outer edge of the habitable zone. There is enough heat and geological activity to start life, but a snowball earth is looming and threatens to freeze it all. There is some spring ...
7
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2answers
299 views

What If Kangaroos Became An Invasive Species In Eastern North America?

What if kangaroos (specifically eastern grey kangaroos) became invasive in the eastern part of North America? How would they effect native flora and fauna? What would they compete for resources with? ...
7
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3answers
185 views

How many human inhabitants could Earth host in a far future? [closed]

Assuming a technologically advanced civilization that has grown sustainably from the resources of its own planet (and maybe "a few" additional resources from its own solar system), what would be the ...
7
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1answer
79 views

Could a Greater Number and Diversity of Marine Plant Species be Possible?

As landlubbers, we often let ourselves think that if salty seawater is undrinkable for us, it could be even worse for plants. However, certain types of angiosperms have found ways to not only thrive ...
7
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2answers
287 views

How could this flora/fauna symbiosis work?

I'm building an alien world for an artistic project. The world circles an m-dwarf star, and so the flora have evolved to photosynthesize longer wavelengths of light than on Earth, primarily in the ...
7
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3answers
334 views

How does the ecosystem of the Underdark/underground world work?

The Old Ones build continent-sized bunker complexes to protect themselves from the enemy, which followed through the cosmic ocean. The Hunter succeeded easily despite their efforts and their corpses ...
7
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1answer
157 views

The Geography and Ecology of a Supervolcanic Planet

What would be the geographical and ecological implications for an Earth-like planet that experienced intense volcanic and supervolcanic activity on a scale that, while decreasing over time, was far ...
7
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1answer
79 views

Number of small herbivores per acre

I am interested in world building of a alien biospheres, as is done for example in Alien Biospheres series. In this context, I would like to know some rule of thumb how to estimate number of animals ...
7
votes
1answer
97 views

How much does the ecosphere weigh?

So, we've gone off to another star system and decided to build a Dyson bubble--a continuous statite, supported by radiation pressure, surrounding a star--with a surface gravity of 1g to live on. Now, ...
6
votes
7answers
538 views

The food chain was destroyed. How is it remade?

There was a nuclear war in my world Anthropocene. It caused a mass extinction of numerous animals on the planet, so many I can’t cover them all completely, so I’ll tell you what animals are left: ...
6
votes
1answer
204 views

Phonosynthesis - ecosystem where “plants” extract energy from sound, not light

I have an idea about a planet that is cold and dark, but very loud. Constant rolling storms, crashing glaciers and icesheets, earthquakes, volcanoes and so on. Instead of photosynthetic plants, as on ...
6
votes
4answers
236 views

The westbird. Could this exist?

Situation: A terrestrial environment on a megaworld (artificial construct). I'm thinking of how invasive species tend to dominate the ecosystems they move into--how about the ultimate invasive ...
6
votes
1answer
302 views

Eating one whale every three thousand days?

My current ongoing project, about which I've asked many questions, is about a world in which evolutionarily plausible legendary and folkloric creatures roam the Earth. One such creature is the sea ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Producing oxygen without plants

Obviously, current oxygen levels should last us years, so we are talking about a long-term solution. Also, in this hypothetical scenario, plants have stopped releasing oxygen but haven't stop ...
6
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2answers
266 views

A 40km alien saucer is floating 1km above central Africa for a long time. What are the effects on the rainforest below?

Earlier this year, a second alien saucer came to Earth and stopped 1 kilometer above the central African nation of Wakanda. The Wakandans are fine with this and refuse to let anyone investigate or do ...
6
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1answer
76 views

The Microecology of Living Quarters

A Question on the Balance of Ecosystems on the Microbial Scale Say that we had some living quarters on an Earth-like planet, within a moderately-sized base. The inhabitants of this base can freely ...
6
votes
1answer
126 views

Ecological implications of osmotic portals

Suppose some magical civilization on Earth-like planet can create portals. Any given portal entrances are spherical surfaces of the same radius. Any particle enters one sphere and exits another in the ...
6
votes
1answer
277 views

What tree type grows into the most dense forests?

"Tree" is (apparently) not a very well defined term as far as scientific classifications are concerned, so I'll put my own restrictions on it for this question: Typical healthy adult specimens must ...