Post Cataclysm Ecosystem Collapse And Rebalance


#1

To begin, I’m no biologist or ecologist, I’m a mechanical engineer. I have a high school level of education about environmental science, the food chain and the interconnected nature of the ecosystem. That being said, I know enough to strongly suspect that the sudden introduction of giant insects, exotic mutant species (jabberwocks, razorclaw, etc), and invasive extraterrestrial/dimensional organisms would play absolute HAVOC on the biosphere.

Firstly, most of the mutant organisms are predatory, so they will all be competing with the baseline native predators for prey. There are a LOT of new predators, and an ecosystem with more predators than prey species will quickly collapse. Secondly, the different capabilities and behaviors of the mutant species will affect the ecosystem as well. The native animals and plants have not had time to adapt to their presence like with their natural predators. I suspect a lot of existing native predators would be out-competed, and many of the herbivores would end up with significantly reduced numbers or outright extinct.

I propose the following features to address this:

  • Add mutated herbivore species and invasive extraterrestrial/dimensional herbivores/autotrophs. Some will only begin to appear after a few years, to simulate adaptation to the post-cataclysm environment.
    Note: Adaptation normally takes anywhere from decades to centuries to occur, but for gameplay purposes we need to speed that up. I would justify this as the blob gradually adapting living hosts to their environment.

  • Adjust the spawn rate of native unmutated species so that it gradually drops over time, stabilizing after 10 years in game (maybe longer), to simulate the effects of an ecosystem partially collapsing and reaching a new equilibrium.

  • Adjust the spawn rate so that the mutated and invasive species increase over time (except the fungus, its bad enough already).

Edit:

  • A randomized mutation system for animal and plant species would be AWESOME. Have it randomly alter each species every year for the first ten years, to simulate natural selection and adaptation. Different games would end up with different ecosystems and species.

#2

I’m an uneducated sod and have little to nothing to contribute.

However, I’d be pickled tink to see more ‘mutated’ herbivores in the game (are there currently any at all?). Plants too, for that matter. Not everything that gets mutated needs to be predatory.

Unless there’s something in the game lore. Like, are they mutated as a result of the Cataclysm, or were they test-subjects that ended up being released? If they’re just a ‘natural’ part of the Cataclysm, then there should be herbivores. If they were actually test subjects, it might make sense that the government was only making killing machines.


#3

Only mutant plant I know of his the mutated poppy. The only mutant herbivore I’m aware of are the Giant Bees, and I suspect they may not be eating plant pollen anymore. For one thing, there aren’t any flowers big enough. We need some giant mutant flowers that spawn near hives for them to feed on, or have them demonstrate predatory behavior, like swarming a deer and carrying it back to the nest.

I too want to see more mutant herbivores for sure. A randomized mutation system for animal and plant species would be AWESOME. Have a random species generator that alters each species every year for the first ten years, to simulate natural selection and aggressive adaptation. Each game would end up with a different ecosystem entirely once it stabilized. You might run across a deer that has sprouted tentacles in place of antlers, so that it can grab fruit from trees. The next year those tentacles might be furry, or have suckers, etc. In a different game, the deer might grow another pair of legs to better allow them to escape predators, and then the next year their hooves would be mutated with a spike or dew claw, to provide superior damage in combat.


#4

It might also make some sense to have herbivores as early test versions to get a basic idea and so that they are less likely to murder themselves.
I like these ideas. I hope they get added.

EDIT: The whole mutation tree system you suggested could also be employed on other mutated creatures as well. Whether it be plant or predator something else entirely.
But In less certain about having the eldeitch beasts mutate. Theys is gud.


#5

I suspect the random mutation generator will be difficult to implement. I think it would require a rework of how the game treats creatures for one thing. The generator would also need the ability to create new creatures, along with their descriptions and stats, so that every single possible permutation would not have to be coded and written by people. Having to code every permutation would be completely impractical as there would be thousands.

It would also need a way of determining which permutations are successful, and thus, will continue and evolve further, and which ones will go extinct and be replaced. I think a rules based program kind of like Conway’s Game of Life might be a way to accomplish this.


#6

Not sure if I’m looking forward to being chased by full Alpha or Chimera mutated moose, but it would add more DF kind of fun and accelerate “How did you last die?” thread for sure


#7

On the plus side, there are no elephants in game. There are unfortunately giant carp though…

Oh god, mutant carp with legs. THEY CAN WALK ON LAND NOW!


#8

Ever heard of the Tabletop RPG “Gamma World”? It has a system for creating mutant fauna and flora.

Second, I suspect that Post-Blob New England has a very Australian mentality when it comes to life: Limited Resources? Kill everything that competes.

The issue with a normal ecosystem is that everything only has a 10% efficiency when it eats something else. I suspect the blob alleviates this somewhat, as its mutagenic properties account for a significant amount of energy in this new ecosystem in arthropods (which helps explain why the bees get so big so fast).


#9

Cellular automatons are amazing and capable of generating extremely complex results.

As far as practical applications, this is something really interesting I’ve studied: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattice_gas_automaton

More generally this book is a pretty thorough and crazy exploration of the nature of automaton systems. It is also full of pretty pictures: https://www.wolframscience.com/nks/
( I bought a hard copy of it because it makes a nice coffee table book, :wink: )


#10

I haven’t really thought of it before, but it really is kinda like Australia. It isn’t a stereotype that it’s stupidly dangerous up there (A sphere has no top or bottom so I say Australia is ‘up’).
There is plenty of different flora and fauna in the CDDA ecosystem, but if you see something it is probably dangerous.
I’m glad hippos aren’t over here, they may look docile but they’d gladly bite you in half with one chomp. And you thought a moose was bad.
It’s crazy how there are so many different ecosystems all on one planet.


#11

Did somebody call a biologist?! I’ve got one of those degrees! Please validate me.


#12

A biologist sounds perfect for this thread. I could never be a boiloyist, personally, cuz of good ol’ PTSD! Gotta love that stuff :expressionless:
I can easily think of some basic stuff around all that, but most of what I’ve learned from school has rotted away.
What kind of other sciences would be good here other than that? Hmm, probably a botanist, an ecologist, maybe a geologist (Dirt and rocks can affect many things) and maybe a few others.

EDITS: Ooo! How about a post-apocalypsist?


#13

I would wonder at a mutualistic or parasitic relationship wherein mutant insects establish relationships with the triffids.

I could see some kind of mutant super herbivores that are just armor and a slow metabolism to take advantage of the seeming lack of small, parasitic insects given their massive mutations.


#14

this reminds me of a critique of The John Carter series (Barsoon series) that Mars was too predatory. It WOULD be really cool to see mutated cows, deer, beavers etc.
Of coarse there isn’t really anything saying that the ecosystem has to REMAIN stable or restabilize at any point, unless the blob has some particular interest in this, but I was under the impression that that was i bit distracted elsewhere and paying little/no attention here. Unless of coarse mutating the herbivores along with everything else is pretty par for the coarse.

Oh GOD what about the zoos?!? All those animals that wouldn’t normally have any place locally, powered by blob mutation. I guess basically everything is an invasive species at this point anyways…


#15

I was under the impression that mostly the mutations and other changes imparted by the blob on terrestrial life were done unconsciously on its part. Kind of like how your cells all function, but you aren’t actively controlling them individually.

Well, if there aren’t enough of them to reproduce and breed, they aren’t that big of a problem. That being said, I would not want to run into a ZOMBIE ELEPHANT in a dark alley.

But my real fear: Giant Spiders with wings.


#16

In Fallout 76 there are these parasitic vines which can take over mirelurks and other creatures. There is an entire swamp that has been absolutely infested by the vines. All the trees, lots of the animals, etc are infected, and their growth/behaviors altered.

I know there is a basis for this in reality. The Corticeps fungus zombifies ants for example. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch for a parasitic plant to do something similar. Maybe infesting creatures and then driving them back to its central core to be digested, or simply die and fertilize the ground. I read about a tree which seems to have adapted to kill birds; it has sticky seeds or something, which clump all over birds that land on it. The birds sometimes get trapped there, unable to fly due to being covered in seeds, and starve to death.

Also, @Trigon, in your expert opinion how much of the ecosystem would die off post-cataclysm, and how fast? Not just general animal population drop, how many (and what kind of) species would be driven extinct outright? What kinds would be most likely to survive?


#17

Honestly CDDA is hard to say for sure. But the massive bio system shift would be absolutely devastating. I honestly think most species would go extinct as we know them or adapt into a different niche. It really depends on the individual ecosystem’s resistance to shock.

Domestic animals like cattle and chicken would probably be driven to the brink of extinction, scavenger species would be completely devastated by blob infection (effective extinction) and most carnivore species too.

I think small herbivores stand the best chance of surviving. Rats will likely make it, squirrels, other hardy rodents of the like.

Honestly I wonder at the insect population the most. Do we have giants and typical insects or just giants?

Speaking of the giant ants would basically strip the areas around them down into nothing. I can’t foresee them surviving at their size if they work like normal ants.

And that’s to say nothing of the mycus.


#18

People tend to underestimate the negative impact our civilization has on wildlife everywhere.

If we suddenly dissapeared, most animal populations would skyrocket in a few years. See what happened with deer in most rural states when their hunting became better regulated in the XX century.

Zombies wouldnt have close to the impact our civilization has, for starters they dont have to eat anything, and cant hunt with any intelligence.


#19

It’s a good point. But assuming the blob infection converts everything into disease carrying resilient predators with poison flesh that also converts whatever eats it into said super predator I would suspect that creates a much more aggressive depopulation than humans. At least on a short timescale where the native species has no way to quickly adapt for the most part.


#20

I think the impact humanity has on wildlife would be dwarfed by the effects of the blob infection.

It isn’t the hunting by human zombies that is the problem. The population of zombie predators will grow steadily unless something evolves that can successfully check their growth, or there is intervention by an outside source. Every single wolf, dog, bear, cougar, etc, that dies becomes an undead killing machine. In addition, every largish herbivore that dies will ALSO reanimate as a zombie, and any predator that attempts to eat them will either succeed and start mutating as a result of eating their flesh, or die and become another zombie.

Long term, it seems like there would be some pretty strong selection pressure favoring creatures with smaller overall body mass, adaptations that allow safe consumption of tainted meat or vegetable matter, genetic stability, or immune system adaptations which can destroy the blob.

Maybe the giant insects are part of the stabilizing method. If the giant wasps, bees, spiders, etc are preying preferentially on zombified creatures, they might prevent the cycle of zombification from going out of control in the biosphere. It might even be an intentional way for the blob to regulate its massive zombie network, and keep it from growing out of control and extinguishing its supply of new bodies to replace damaged ones.