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Questions tagged [ecology]

For questions dealing with the interactions between organisms and their environments.

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63 votes
9 answers
15k 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 ...
Mindwin Remember Monica's user avatar
32 votes
10 answers
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, ...
Brian's user avatar
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31 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Green's user avatar
  • 52.8k
30 votes
12 answers
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 ...
Ginasius's user avatar
  • 1,346
30 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Pinion Minion's user avatar
27 votes
20 answers
7k views

How would you build a road system that respected nature?

How would build a road system or transportation system that respected nature with the following constraints: No paved roads or less than 10% paved roads can’t use gasoline (oil) allow nature to ...
1.21 gigawatts's user avatar
27 votes
7 answers
8k 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). ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 101k
26 votes
11 answers
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 ...
Hufflehobbit's user avatar
22 votes
11 answers
6k views

Why would a creature both have carnivore teeth and side-facing eyes?

So, after a long unplanned hiatus, I have started designing alien creatures again, and one image that eve before that hiatus I could not get out of my head is that of a creature which has both the ...
Choroflorocarbon's user avatar
21 votes
9 answers
5k views

Could a pine forest with year-round snowfall survive?

I am trying to design an alien forest ecosystem. The forest looks like this (from Dreamstime.com): The relevant difference between the real-life Swedish forest pictured and mine is that my world ...
Mark Price's user avatar
  • 2,438
20 votes
17 answers
5k views

How can plants reliably intentionally poison those that eat their fruit?

For sake of metaphor, I want to include a plant that bears fruit that is poisonous, with the intent that when an animal eats it, it will walk away and die within a few hours, such that their corpse ...
DanishChef's user avatar
20 votes
9 answers
3k views

What's a reasonable environmental disaster that could be caused by a probe from Earth entering Europa's ocean?

I'm working on a story involving life on Europa (or at least a place just like it) being upturned dramatically by contact from a probe sent from Earth. Found this community while researching, and have ...
Brooke's user avatar
  • 261
20 votes
5 answers
4k views

99.9% of the flight-capable birds died at once. How screwed is the rest of the world?

When a massive handwavium accident happened on Earth, 99.9% of all flight-capable birds worldwide, instead of dealing with it, answered with "Nope, gone to heaven." Basically, they died ...
Mindwin Remember Monica's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
924 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 ...
X-27 is done with the network's user avatar
18 votes
6 answers
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 ...
Slarty's user avatar
  • 37.6k
17 votes
5 answers
4k views

Ecological niche of a horse sized wolf

In many fantasy settings, soldiers (generally orcs) ride on wolves the size of horses, plundering and raiding to their hearts' content. The only issue I see with this image (aside from using a ...
Seraphim's user avatar
  • 4,971
17 votes
14 answers
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), ...
Chariot's user avatar
  • 233
17 votes
4 answers
792 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 ...
Clockwork Parzival's user avatar
16 votes
8 answers
3k views

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 ...
J. Purdie's user avatar
  • 495
16 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
The Weasel Sagas's user avatar
15 votes
16 answers
7k views

If a creature's best food source was 4,000 feet above it, and only rarely fell from that height, how would it evolve to eat that food?

Setting No sunlight reaches the area where these creatures live, but the food it eats has fairly easy access to sunlight. The ground below the creatures is nutrient-rich soil, and is heated by ...
shootbuildthink's user avatar
15 votes
8 answers
3k views

Where do forge-worms live outside of forges?

Forge-worms are large bugs which flutter about the hearths of forges. They rely on the high temperatures of the forge to stay active and immediately fall into torpor when their body temperature falls ...
Ichthys King's user avatar
  • 16.2k
15 votes
5 answers
6k views

Life on a planet with never-ending rain

I'm intrigued by the notion of life on a planet where rain is a constant presence. Imagine a world where precipitation never ceases, where the skies are perpetually gray, and the sound of raindrops ...
Alessar's user avatar
  • 521
14 votes
5 answers
3k views

Is the universe old enough to have an ecosystem of feral self-replicating spacecraft?

Is it possible that, through any plausible history of alien life, and any plausible method of propogation for a self-replicating spacecraft, that the universe, as seen from present day Earth, could be ...
Ichthys King's user avatar
  • 16.2k
14 votes
2 answers
634 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 ...
Zxyrra's user avatar
  • 20.6k
12 votes
6 answers
2k views

Would honey work as money?

Would honey be feasible as a kind of money? It seems ideal to me and I'm wondering if I'm missing something. Honey is: imperishable (like gold is) hard to mass-produce or massively scale production ...
Ligament's user avatar
  • 353
11 votes
15 answers
5k views

How can kaiju exist in nature and not significantly alter civilization?

I'm building a world where kaiju-sized creatures exist alongside regular-sized creatures. How these kaiju don't crumble under their own weight doesn't matter, and can be explained away by them being ...
M Arif Rahman Winandar's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
TheDyingOfLight's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
1k views

Planet unhabitable by certain demographic [closed]

Space explorers with same tech level as in alien franchise found a planet. Planet had some carbon based, earth-like flora and fauna on it, but it still needed some additional touches, not a full blown ...
Terry Glebnerr's user avatar
10 votes
8 answers
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 ...
unknown's user avatar
  • 910
10 votes
4 answers
329 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, ...
SealBoi's user avatar
  • 14.9k
9 votes
3 answers
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 ...
SealBoi's user avatar
  • 14.9k
9 votes
6 answers
1k views

Energy in a food web of robots

I'm working on a planet with robotic life, until now I think I know how they work, the only problem is that, unless I want to make all lifeforms autotrophic, I have no idea how the energy might move ...
MewTheCatsaur's user avatar
9 votes
6 answers
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 ...
AGrzes's user avatar
  • 1,303
9 votes
4 answers
688 views

Fruit and liquivores

Fruit usually works in symbiotic relationship with animals by giving them food to take in and seeds to "deposit" elsewhere. But let's say you had a world where the dominant feeding method ...
Joe Smith's user avatar
  • 3,192
9 votes
8 answers
883 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 ...
Lizardsaurus's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Mark Gardner's user avatar
  • 2,884
9 votes
4 answers
837 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 ...
JohnWDailey's user avatar
  • 14.5k
9 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 85.5k
9 votes
3 answers
583 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 ...
Chairman Yang's user avatar
8 votes
8 answers
3k views

Make a tiny island robust to ecologic collapse

My world is to have a tiny island that will periodically be inhabited by a person or small group of people. By tiny I'm using a fuzzy yardstick: 1-50 hectares. When people are here, they will be ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
8 votes
7 answers
2k views

What might cause evolution to produce bioluminescence in almost every lifeforms on a alien planet?

On a planet similar to Earth, is is possible for all living creatures to have bioluminescence? If yes, what role would it fulfill? What other traits would be useful in such an environment? Larger eyes?...
Veknor's user avatar
  • 632
8 votes
4 answers
1k views

Realism of a setting with several sapient anthropomorphic animal species

The concept of a planet with several anthropomorphic sapient species (furries, if you will) is immensely popular. But would it actually make sense in the first place? I am aware of the issue of "...
autumnstorm451's user avatar
8 votes
10 answers
983 views

How can I justify that dunes keep drifting and cannot be stabilised?

I have the idea of a fantasy civilization based around shifting dunes. The idea is that the land is largely uninhabitable except for the coasts, but there are large dunes that function as habitable &...
Claus Appel's user avatar
  • 1,040
8 votes
4 answers
470 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 ...
Vakus Drake's user avatar
  • 2,803
8 votes
5 answers
722 views

What would happen if we built a huge cofferdam around Hawaii and drained the water?

I had an idea for a sci-fantasy story set in a far future where there are primitive human settlements at the base of Mauna Kea who are unaware that they're actually dwelling on the sea floor of the ...
Gwood's user avatar
  • 83
8 votes
4 answers
277 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 ...
SealBoi's user avatar
  • 14.9k
8 votes
2 answers
1k 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? ...
299 Neandertal Variants 's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
453 views

Which modern organisms would survive a new K-Pg level impact?

EDIT: As many have pointed out, the whole Lunar Collision aspect I originally envisioned is probably more extreme than I predicted. I don't know where to start as far as the math goes, although my gut ...
Maddock Emerson's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
504 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 ...
Dronz's user avatar
  • 5,470

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