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The Plausibility of Catachan-like Deathworlds

#1
As we all know, Catachan is the most famous deathworld in universe of Warhammer 40k. What I want to discuss here is how plausible such an ecosystem would be. Not how plausible the animals are, but how the ecosystem works, which is "everything eats everything". Another example would be Fragment by Warren Fahy where the plants eat the giant carnivorous landshrimp, and the giant carnivorous landshrimp eats the plants as well. Including everything else.

How plausible is this compared to the stratified ecosystem of RL Earth?
 

Aaron Fox

Active member
#3
Really, a Deathworld is basically Australia or the Rocky Mountain states turned to 11.

While Australia is the posterchild for deathworld like environs (given the continent's fauna tends to be crowding the top ten deadliest fauna lists by any reasonable metric), US states like Montana are posterchilds in their own way. Montana, for example, has a tendency to basically have weather and temperature changes out of nowhere (the state holds the record for largest temperature change within 24 hours (103 degrees, from -54 to +41 F), has a tendency to throw hailstorms with hail the size of golfballs minimum, among other things. There is a reason that Montana has a 3-guns (or more) per capita and it isn't because of people.
 
#4
Really, a Deathworld is basically Australia or the Rocky Mountain states turned to 11.

While Australia is the posterchild for deathworld like environs (given the continent's fauna tends to be crowding the top ten deadliest fauna lists by any reasonable metric), US states like Montana are posterchilds in their own way. Montana, for example, has a tendency to basically have weather and temperature changes out of nowhere (the state holds the record for largest temperature change within 24 hours (103 degrees, from -54 to +41 F), has a tendency to throw hailstorms with hail the size of golfballs minimum, among other things. There is a reason that Montana has a 3-guns (or more) per capita and it isn't because of people.
Actually, Australia's reputation as a deathworld is highly exaggerated. The only reason they seem so deadly is due to the many species of tiny venomous/poisonous animal species. In reality, their largest animal is about the size of a large man.

And I'm not talking about a deathworld based on weather. I'm talking about a deathworld based on a "everything eat everything" system. Like, a zebra eats some grass. A lion kills and eats the zebra. Suddenly another zebra ambushes the lion and kills and eats it. Then suddenly the grass kills and eats the zebra.

EVERYTHING eats EVERYTHING.
 

Aaron Fox

Active member
#5
Actually, Australia's reputation as a deathworld is highly exaggerated. The only reason they seem so deadly is due to the many species of tiny venomous/poisonous animal species. In reality, their largest animal is about the size of a large man.

And I'm not talking about a deathworld based on weather. I'm talking about a deathworld based on a "everything eat everything" system. Like, a zebra eats some grass. A lion kills and eats the zebra. Suddenly another zebra ambushes the lion and kills and eats it. Then suddenly the grass kills and eats the zebra.

EVERYTHING eats EVERYTHING.
Hence why I said 'among other things'. We still have problems with moose on more than one occasion (or vehicles completely trashed because of them). Remember the environment they are in takes part in the general biosphere.
 
#6
Hence why I said 'among other things'. We still have problems with moose on more than one occasion (or vehicles completely trashed because of them). Remember the environment they are in takes part in the general biosphere.
No? It really doesn't. Just assume it's permanently tropical with few natural disasters. This is supposed to focus on the animals. Not the weather.
 
#8
Here's the thing, weather influences fauna. Basic binome mechanics.
Unfortunately, these aren't normal fauna. I'm not asking about how the weather influences the fauna. I'm asking if it's possible to have fauna and flora that can all prey on each other. I fail to see how a permanently tropical climate will have much effect on the question I'am asking. Care to enlighten me?
Environment in question is a bowl shaped island with a single large lake at the center. Tropical climate, no fluctuations.
 
#9
Flora vs herbivores - I suppose it is possible for an overgrown Venus flytrap to exist, maybe? I can not even begin to speculate on its success against regular photosynthesizing plants, but there's probably a reason why no such thing exists on Earth.

Flora vs omnivores - see above

Flora vs carnivores - hahaha no


Fauna - to be honest, I don't really understand your question.

Is it "why don't herbivores eat carnivores instead of what they're evolved to eat"? If that's the case, then no offense but your question is pretty fucking dumb.

Is it "why don't animals eat plants and animals"? Because such animals totally exist, they're called bears.
 
#10
Flora vs herbivores - I suppose it is possible for an overgrown Venus flytrap to exist, maybe? I can not even begin to speculate on its success against regular photosynthesizing plants, but there's probably a reason why no such thing exists on Earth.

Flora vs omnivores - see above

Flora vs carnivores - hahaha no


Fauna - to be honest, I don't really understand your question.

Is it "why don't herbivores eat carnivores instead of what they're evolved to eat"? If that's the case, then no offense but your question is pretty fucking dumb.

Is it "why don't animals eat plants and animals"? Because such animals totally exist, they're called bears.
:(
This is a question pertaining to a fictional ecosystem where everything is an omnivore. The food web can be summarised into X eats Y, Y eats X, Z eats X and Y, and X/Y eats Z. Basically, everything eats everything. I'm asking if this is possible/sustainable if those animals were made real.
 
#11
If you're talking about fiction, then everything is possible, obviously.

If you're talking about reality, then who knows? You're not asking about the plausibility of a system like that, merely the possibility. There probably is a way to make such a system work, but this is the realm of professional biologists.
 
#14
I can't see large carnivorous plants ever being evolutionarily plausible. Venus flytraps and the like work because insects and their tiny brains are extremely dumb. Larger and more intelligent animals would quickly learn to avoid or destroy carnivorous plants (which generally lack things like vision, smell, etc. that enable them to fight back against an intelligent predator). Sessile predators like anemones likewise prey on small, stupid animals.

Everything eating everything might be plausible in an engineered ecosystem, but from an evolutionary standpoint it's just bad optimization and thus unlikely. If everything eats everything then every organism essentially shares the same niche and there's no optimization going on. The first organisms to start specializing into a niche will hold a massive survival advantage over everything else since they'll be getting more bang for their buck.

The ideal for every species is a niche in which they are totally dominant with no competition. And everything-eats-everything ecosystem is the exact opposite of that. Such "deathworld" ecosystems would likely be outcompeted by normal ecosystems. Kind of like how despite Australia's deathworld memetic status, their ecosystems are obliterated by rabbits.
 
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