Okay. You, and a bunch of your friends, are going off to colonize an alien planet.

You know that this planet has:

Gravity, heat, light, temporal cycles, elemental resources, and weather that are close enough to Earth's that most reasonably adaptable Earth species can survive and breed there.

A functioning carbohydrate-based planetary ecosystem that does basic things like keep the atmosphere oxygenated and soils fertile and dead things rotting and oceans thawed and all the other cycles rolling, and has been around long enough that much of the geology is fossilized (so there are probably coal and petroleum and carbonite deposits, etc.)

A fairly large landmass with a subtropical/Mediterranean-like climate with warm temperatures year-round, no major extreme weather, and ample seasonal rainfall, where you are planning to settle.

However, the planet's biology is not close enough to Earth's that Earth life can interact with it on any complex level. You can count on being able to use native life for things like fibers and building material and fuel and maybe latex and dyes, but anything you want to eat or use for medicine you'll have to bring with you. Along with pollinators and symbiotic fungi and any other life needed to keep that life going. And you're going to need to be self-sufficient within a year or two of arrival, with a fairly small initial population and very limited technological resources. On the plus side, local diseases, pests, and predators are mostly going to ignore anything Earth-based.

If you could have your pick of all species currently alive anywhere on Earth(and maybe a few that are recently extinct, and maybe a few that need a tiny bit of gene-tinkering first), what among Earth life would you bring with you? I am especially interested for species that aren't currently common food products in Europe/North America.
cat_rood: (Default)

From: [personal profile] cat_rood


1) Butterflies/bees (Probably wasps and/or yellow jackets. Yes, they're the epitome of EVIIIIIIIIIIIL but they're damned good about cross-pollination.)
2) Birds. Mostly small species (wrens, sparrows, robins, humming birds, etc)
3) BATS - damned good for pollination, keep the insect population down AND can be used to help with fertilizer. (Don't judge. Bat guano's good for it!)
4) Horses/goats/sheep - farming herd beasts. Manure, and all that jazz.


I think that's about all I can think of right now, but I'll probably come up with something later.
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)

From: [personal profile] passerine


I remember in Herland, Ellador mentions that the last domestic animal the Herlanders regularly used was sheep, for the same sort of reasons (dairy animal that is also a source of fiber and meat).


From: [personal profile] pippin


I'm pretty sure that kangaroos aren't that viable for farming, but emu and camel might be worth looking into. Might want to genetically speed up emu growth a wee bit. I don't know how long it takes camel to mature, though. We mostly started cooking them because they were pests. I'm having difficulty thinking of a better meat-and-fibre animal than sheep for that climate (and thus, grass and stuff).

Aloe vera should grow well. Mango and passionfruit and other standard fruits. Grapes! Sugarcane and cotton, maybe? Wattle, finger lime, Davidson's plum, emu apples, riberry, New Zealand spinach maybe, lemon aspen, mountain pepper, macadamia.

If there's danger of bushfires then I'd pick some eucalypts etc. that come back quickly from fire.
Edited (pets != pests) Date: 2010-10-20 03:11 am (UTC)

From: [personal profile] pippin


also I gotta be honest I would feel weird about colonising a world without bringing along some venomous and poisonous critters! It wouldn't be home otherwise.

From: [personal profile] pippin


Some other stuff too! It also means you can more easily re-enact Monty Python. :D #notthebestpriorities

You'll probably also want a shorthaired farmdog like a blue heeler or a koolie, rather than your classic border collie, due to the heat? I have no idea what breeds US farmers use!

From: [personal profile] pippin


I guess the idea of a cattle station smaller than Belgium and not needing specialised herders is just too alien for me to imagine. :p

the dog Americans call an Aussie dog is not actually an Australian breed.

Haha, what! *googles* Oh wow, those things have waaaaay too much fur.

From: [personal profile] pippin


Only in boring places where it actually rains, like south west Western Australia.
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)

From: [personal profile] passerine


Hmm...interesting question.

Do you have a fairly thorough idea of what the colony's plant life is capable of? Because I'm thinking that silkworms (and the mulberry bushes they feed upon) might be a good idea, as well as rubber trees. Also if you need something quick-growing that has multiple applications, hemp is good stuff, though your characters' opinions may vary.

Bananas/plantains could make a good staple foodstuff.

See also the Wiki pages on herbalism and plants used as medicine.

I'm guessing that you'll want a source (or a few sources) of caffeine or other stimulants, some things that ferment well to make alcohol (which has industrial and some medicinal applications beyond simply intoxicating people), a range of pain relief options, etc.
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)

From: [personal profile] passerine


Hmm. For medicinals, maybe use the WHO's list of essential medications (wiki version linked here), figure out what herbal/bacterial/etc. equivalents there are and create a very pared-down version from that?

One that I would want to make sure was around if your folks are going to be around a lot of strange flora and fauna is epinephrine of some form. Being able to bring people out of anaphylactic shock = good. :)

Also, this one's a fairly simple chemical with a long history of use rather than a plant-derived medicine, but Magnesium sulfate, aka Epsom salt. VERY important if you're wanting to have basic medical means of dealing with some of the trickier pregnancy complications, and has many other medical uses as well.

What is the situation on this planet for mining, etc.? Can it be usefully done, and should it be? Or will this just completely screw up the local ecology?

From: [personal profile] pippin


You'd have to modify the bananas to grow in a subtropical area, though.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith

Try this...


Guinea pigs! They were raised as meat animals, once; they're quite compact.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Basic: Science)

From: [personal profile] lea_hazel


Well, animal husbandry can be difficult and isn't super energy efficient, so I would go with about 90% plant produce. Soy is a must, naturally, but there are a lot of plant sources of partial protein which, when taken together, provide a fairly complete diet. Legumes store well so you can put down reserves, and they're highly nutritious and also filling; I'd go with peas and lentils, and especially fava beans, unless someone on the expedition carries G6PD deficiency and can't digest them.

Emmer is an old, wild and highly robust cultivar of wheat, so I'd bring that too, but it's very important to have multiple sources of carbohydrates. The UN (I think) maintains a list of under-utilized crops, many of which are staple foods that are largely obscure outside of their native culture. That's a great place to pick up on some interesting species you'd never think of otherwise.

I would also place emphasis on wind-pollinated plants, under the assumption that there's limited space/resources, and catering to the specific pollination needs of a lot of flowering plants would be a pain in the ass. Seed dispersal isn't a concern, quite the contrary, you'd want to avoid letting the Earth species run rampant. Insect-eating bats for population control might be a good idea, though. Or else small reptiles or amphibians.

Olives are good, and they age well, but it takes them decades to reach harvestable maturity. You'd need a backup source of oil, like canola or flax. In general, if you want to be self-sufficient in a year or two, your first line of crops need to be perennials that will quickly give a crop without immediately failing and having to be re-sown. In a pseudo-Mediterranean climate, tomatoes and cucumbers are a good choice, but again, variety is important.

Medically, it's hard to be well-prepared. Microorganisms will always adapt more quickly, so probably your best resource would be a team of crackshot workaholic microbiologists. Corticostereoids are a must, though, because of the sheer breadth of autoimmune conditions. I have no idea how they're produced, though.
nicki: (Default)

From: [personal profile] nicki


*agrees with above comment on wheat* A dense, non taxing to produce grain product is necessary. Also, with wheat you get bread and with bread you get bread-mold and then you get antibiotics.

Sheep, relatively small, easily herded, good protein, clothing fiber, lanolin (for dry, cracked, farming in the weather skin and probably for ointments as well), writing material if necessary and good fertilizers.
nicki: (Default)

From: [personal profile] nicki


Bah, culture medium is all cheaty. :P

Med climate doesn't grow most fruits and veg all year. It does some winter veg fairly easily (broccoli, brussels sprouts, similar), but tomatoes and the like only through early/mid autumn really. Late winter and early spring (equiv of Jan-March) would be pretty bare.
supermouse: Simple blue linedrawing of a stylised superhero mouse facing left (Default)

From: [personal profile] supermouse


Potatoes. They're a brilliant staple crop and good at breaking new ground. They're also not massively invasive.
supermouse: Simple blue linedrawing of a stylised superhero mouse facing left (Default)

From: [personal profile] supermouse


The climate didn't seem warm enough for yams or taro, and I don't know enough about how yams and taro are cultivated or processed after harvesting, whereas I am moderately confident in the ecology of the potato.
bliumchik: (Default)

From: [personal profile] bliumchik


Remember that for every animal species you transport, you're going to have to bring its equivalent food chain branch right down to the level where genetic incompatibility is no longer an issue. Depending on your GM capacity you can probably avoid bringing over predators to prevent overpopulation, humanity can always step in in that role if necessary, but bats gotta eat.

That also means vegetable life has to come first, as a bottom feeder, and that brings with it the issue of which native plants you're displacing to make room for stuff your bats can digest. If you're looking for environmental conflict in your story a miscalculation in this area is a good non-epic problem to introduce.
lady_ganesh: A pink lotus floating in a bowl (lotus)

From: [personal profile] lady_ganesh


Alas, I am no good with seaweed beyond knowing I love it and it's IMPORTANT. We did a lot in my one semester of college botany but it was mostly focusing on individual plants rather than systems.
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