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Animals to the Stars
http://sfrpg-discussion.net/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=3263
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Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Animals to the Stars

What animals do you think will travel with Humanity to the stars.

Pets
- Dogs
- Cats
- Birds

Food Animals
-Cows
-Horses and Donkeys (ok not food but work animals)
-Pigs
-Chickens
-Ducks(?)
Fish (not sure what kinds though.. Salmon are obviously out, but Catfish and other Cultured fish may be OK)

Pests
-Cockroaches
-Rats
-Mice

Other (imported ecology or relocated animals to save them from extinction)
-Whales, dolphins etc. - to a water world
-Wolves and other predators to balance a terraformed ecology


I am working on my list, but I know I am a bit America-centric and don't want to ignore the possibilities such as Llamas and Alapacas.

Thanks in Advance

Author:  EDG [ Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Would food animals even be necessary? They take a lot of space and require a lot of resources, wouldn't it make more sense to to grow artificial meat in vats?

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

That probably makes sense on Starships, Space Stations and uninhabitable planets, but if you have a shirt-sleeve environment, I think humanity would bring food animals with them. Vatmeat is probably going to be common, but thought of like SPAM, edible, but not necessarily tasty (personal opinions aside, I was using societal opinions, I like SPAM).

This of course is for a game, realistically, I think you might be right and we will move away from true agriculture within a century or so, but that isn't as much fun as cattle rusting on Delta Capricorn IV. :)

Author:  Agemegos [ Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

You’re going to need a vast, prodigious array of species to build a stable ecosystem that is biocompatible with humans. Pollinators. Seed disperses, souls conditioning animals.. Also, selfreproducing, self-maintaining biotech robots to collect the production of self-assembling solar-power nanotech chemical factories (genetically-engineered herbivore to graze the genetically-engineered plants), predators and parasites to prevent boom-and-bust cycles of plant and animal reproduction. Ants, termites, and earthworms to till and aerate the soil. Scavengers and decay organisms to dispose of droppings and corpse.

Terraforming a world amounts to covering its surface with a vast solar-powered biotech chemical and materials factory. We leave little land and few animals wild on Earth: most land that can be arable or pasture is, most vertebrate biomass is is and our herds. We won’t be going to any other planets unless we need their surfaces for the same: fields, pastures, plantations, and ecology-stabilising wilderness.

To your list of pests, add flies, mosquitoes, live, weevils – then add biological controls such as spiders.

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Ants and Bees make sense. A swarm of bees attacking a grav-tank has a certain perverse delight... :)

Thanks for the suggestions.

Using a more Space Opera approach, if the existing biosphere is broadly compatible with Earth life (not likely but a common scifi trope), then rarely would we need to create a biosphere from scratch. (hopefully).

I was thinking about animals that would be encountered by travelers.

Thanks!

Author:  thrash [ Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Goats and rabbits have both been suggested for free-floating space habitats, as have trout.

Tilapia are among the fish most tolerant of extreme environments (there was a breeding population in California's Salton Sea until very recently, for example).

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

I did forget Sheep and Goats.

I also think Goats would be very tolerant of other environments. Those are the kinds of animals I was looking for, but don't really know where to look for this info? I think there could be some interesting animals that most people wouldn't think about that could be common on alien worlds after colonization.

Author:  strontygirl [ Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Pest species - there are going to be a lot less than you might expect, at least for animal pests. (Fungal spores which will infect your crops are another matter entirely). The pests have to have enough to eat for the voyage, and/or be a species which can go dormant. So the eggs of some desert insect surviving a 2 year voyage to Alpha Centauri the same way they'd survive a 2 year drought is fine. But your spacers would have to be a slovenly lot for there to be enough food scraps and human faeces for rats to survive the same trip. It's not like they can gnaw on sailcloth, ropes or mouldy ship's timbers to survive.

Horses and donkeys - what sort of society are you postulating which still needs horses as working animals? I think police horses are the only working horses regularly seen in modern UK, and they are not exactly common. If you can 3D print the parts and then have robots assemble tractors and combine harvesters, what do you need a horse for? If the horse can't eat the alien vegetation on your planet, then it is as much of a liability as a tractor which needs fuel.

Food animals - we're not that far off being able to 3D print a steak or a chicken breast. However if you want food animals, then guinea pigs, rabbits, dormice, and dwarf pig breeds might be better than enormous great cattle, water buffalo or camels.

Pets - yes eventually. They might be a luxury. Things which shed fur may be banned on space stations and other place where pet dander can clog up vents and mess with electronics. There may be culturally important pets, like Siamese fighting fish or the various animals sacred to Hindus (cows, hanuman langurs). If robotics are advanced enough your pet cat or dog may be a fur covered droid with an 'animal' AI in it.

Aquaponics will probably be important as it recycles nitrogen waste into crops. So trout, carp, tilapia and other fast growing fish may be a part of that. Salmon farming is very much a thing, but requires seawater for the adult fish, which is annoyingly corrosive. And salmon are carnivorous, so you'd have to be 3D printing salmon food - so why not eat that instead?

Silkworms! They are starting to genetically engineer these to make silk absorb dyes better.
Bees that are not the honey bee. Most commercial pollinators who supply bees to farms use leaf-cutter bees or various species of bumble bees.

Terraformed ecologies - are going to be very artificial and very impoverished compared to Earth. No-one in their right mind will import the tsetse fly or the anopheles mosquito, let alone the parasites they carry (sleeping sickness, yellow fever, malaria). People want farms without vermin, not wilderness full of tick-infested deer and distemper carrying wolves.

Author:  strontygirl [ Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Was interrupted when posting last night and re-reading it, it comes across as a bit negative. So some more positive things! And a more detailed explanation about the terraforming/ecology (maybe in another post).

Pets - fish. Lots of fish. You've got carp in your aquaponics, so those carp can be goldfish or koi just as easily as they can be species we consider to be edible (though there is nothing stopping you eating a perfectly marked koi, apart from its outraged owner). Tropical fish and colourful aquarium plants can brighten up a home. If you've got the tech to do life support on a space station, then sustaining a marine tank of coral and reef creatures should be dead easy. Perhaps every space station or domed city has a huge public aquarium, full of exotic, colourful shrimps, crabs, fish and corals.

There was a craze here a few years ago for hermit crabs as pets. They were a tropical land-crab variety of hermit, so you didn't need a tank full of water for them. The pet trade was not sustainable because they were being harvested from the wild. But if future people have cracked how to hatch eggs and culture larvae in the lab, then they are a viable pet. You can 3D print shells for them as they grow - and do so in all sorts of colours, patterns and shapes. Perhaps shells designed by famous fashion designers or jewellers are as prized as Faberge eggs or Ming vases?

House rabbits. They're furry, affectionate and can be house trained. And you can have angora rabbits for their wool.

Find a species of bushbaby or marmoset which doesn't mark its territory by peeing on its paws and leaving smelly footprints everywhere. Then domesticate it (some gene tampering speeds this up immensely) and you have an instant hit with anyone who wants something fluffy, cute and smart.

Tortoises are kept as pets. Expand that to everything from dwarf breeds to giant Galapagos tortoises.

Domestic animals - If your world has a thin atmosphere then high altitude beasts like yaks, bactrian camels (2 humped) and llamas will replace water buffalo, cattle and sheep. Some of the breeds of goats which produce cashmere are also high altitude. You might domesticate other high altitude creatures such as chiru antelope (source of shantoosh 'wool'). If you want small meat animals, then guinea pigs, giant mole rats (furry not bald), and bar-headed geese can all breed at oxygen levels which gives people altitude sickness.

Ducks - yes, you are correct to include them. Duck meat and duck eggs are a major source of protein in some parts of the world. Some traditional types of Chinese farming has ponds of shrimps, carp, and ducks as part of their 'recycling' system - carp and ducks eat household scraps, shrimp eat carp and duck poo, all three eat pests like mosquito larvae. And the humans can enjoy shrimp, carp or duck for their dinner. And there are plenty breeds of fancy ducks for public parks or for pet owners to show off at duck fairs.

Author:  strontygirl [ Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Animals to the Stars

Terraforming and ecology... People do not like having their livelihood threatened, or food taken from their children's mouths. People do not like their profits being reduced. People do not like putting in days and days of work, and seeing some or all of that work damaged or destroyed. Farmers are people, just like all the rest of us.

Since the dawn of agriculture, farmers all over the world have invested significant effort into driving off or killing creatures which harm their crops and their livestock. That's everything from scarecrows, to aircraft spraying fields with pesticides, to putting a bounty on the head of wolves, to gassing badgers which may be carrying bovine TB, to genetically engineering plants which are resistant to plant viruses. If you terraform a world and you take things like aphids, locusts, wolves, foxes, the cotton boll weevil, the Colorado potato beetle, the tobacco mosaic virus and other such things, then the farmers on your planet will - at the very best - be writing strongly worded letters to the Times. At worst they'll turn up at your house with torches and pitchforks! :D

Building an ecosystem with all the wild creatures which conservationists like but which farmers consider to be pests and vermin (e.g. golden eagles, foxes) is on economic terms, bonkers. There are whole industries built on defeating the depredations of crop pests and eliminating vermin from our homes. Why soend this money when you don't have to?

Building an ecosystem with all the wild creatures which transmit diseases to humans and domestic animals (e.g. malaria, foot and mouth disease, TB) is probably socially disastrous. Mrs Miggins can emigrate to Planet A, where her kids have a chance of catching some hideous disease or parasitic infection, or she can emigrate to Planet B, where those diseases were not incorporated into the ecosystem. No contest. (Unless she is from some society which believes such things to be character building or that human suffering is part of God's plan). It is kind of like designing a new city and deliberately including muggers, road accident blackspots and poor sanitation.

If you miss out all the 'inconvenient' animals, plants (weeds) and diseases, you have a very impoverished ecosystem. We don't really know those will function, because there has never been one on Earth. We might be able to design a stable one, we might not. There is a certain amount of flexibility and adaptability even in existing systems, but humans may have to step in to keep everything on track.

For example: consider the differences between grasslands in the Americas and Africa. In the Americas (before the Pampas and Great Plains became farmland), the main cause of death of the big herbivores like buffalo and deer was being killed by large to medium carnivores, such as pumas, wolves, coyotes. Some of the herbivores also died of famine, drought or disease, but predators are the main thing that keeps their numbers stable. Ecologists spend many a happy hour modelling predator and prey population cycles.

In contrast, in Africa the main killer of big wildlife is famine and disease. Sure there are lions, leopards and cheetahs, but they are a minor factor. Africa has, as a result, a huge 'scavenger guild' - animals which make their living from eating the deceased. There are scavengers in the Americas, but Africa has them in droves. Vulture species which specialise in eating particular bits of the carcass. Specialised bone eaters like the various hyenas or the lammergeier. Basically a whole bunch of animals which either only eat carrion, or mostly eat carrion.

So you can have a system which relies less on big carnivores to 'recycle' the dead herbivores. Next step is the get rid of the big carnivores altogether. I mean, you want the cause of death of your goats and cattle to be a slaughterhouse, not a leopard or a wolf, don't you? And they won't be dying of disease because you didn't bring rinderpest or tick fever with you. Famine/drought you cope with with technology, cull the herd and freeze the meat if you can't cope, and hope your insurance company pays up so you can get a new bunch of goat and cow embryos grown up for next year.

Now if there aren't any predators, parasites and diseases, you can perhaps do all sorts of imaginative things with your domestic animals. Fast-growing breeds with short legs, because they don't have to flee from predators (lots of modern western pig and sheep breeds are like this already, as are the wild Svalbard reindeer). Cattle as big as Indricotherium (Baluchitherium)? Genetically engineer mammoths to graze your steppes, and everyone can have a mammoth-wool coat and scarf?

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