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Spy_on_the_Inside
07-27-2012, 02:36 AM
I'm working on a Sci Fi story that takes place in a future American Southwest (New Mexico, to be specific) where the majority of the population lives in large City States and rarely venture out into the Outlands. As a result, the citizens of the City States have come to see the Outlands as a place to meet all their needs. They already mine the gold and the silver and natural materials, hunt animals for their skin and their meat, and harvest the natural vegetation.

But I also don't see them being content with just the flora and fauna native to New Mexico. We know fromn history that people have made numerous attempts to introduce new species into their environment, and not always with the most successful results. But seeing as these rarely have to venture out into the outlands, they wouldn't need to worry about the effects these new species would have on the environment. They would only need to worry about how useful these introduced species would be to them.

But what I wonder is what species could I feasibly introduce into the future New Mexico? The main parts of the story take place in the mountains to the north, the deserts to the south, and the prairies and farmlands to the east. I also wonder about fish that could be introduced, particularily in the Rio Grande.

Does anyone have any advice or imput to offer?

Unimportant
07-27-2012, 05:49 AM
It'll depend in part on where these futuristic people can access new species from. Frex, if in your SF setting both South America and Australasia have been wiped off the map, that would rule out a whole lot of options.

What do they want this species to provide? Luxury furs is a different kettle of fish to meat-for-a-family, which again is different to something like a cute, colourful gecko that's really only good for looking at and admiring.

If you want the new species to be successful, identify the niches that are not currently filled in your setting by an existing species. If you want your new species to be a failure, set up an unequal competition. And if you want your new species to be a disaster for everything else in the food chain, bring in the Australian brush-tail possum.

blacbird
07-27-2012, 06:51 AM
New Mexico is desert country, mainly, with some more luxuriant, but colder places at elevation. The most obvious "introduced species" to today's New Mexico environment is the horse. Wild horses abound in many less-populated areas in the American West, and are a serious environmental problem. Which is the most common difficulty with any introduced species that can thrive in an environment and has no natural controls on population. Witness the rabbit in Australia, the mongoose in Hawaii, or Asian carp in the Mississippi River drainage, or viciously aggressive African honeybees from Brazil to the southern United States, or the Burmese python in southern Florida, or southeast Asian snakehead fish along the East Coast, or zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, or the raccoon in Europe. And mosquitoes of all varieties introduced to Pacific islands, which never had them, by sailors.

You could do some really neat story stuff by incorporating the potential damaging effects of introduced species, as well as their benefits. And don't forget plants. Dandelions are not native to North America, and every lawn aficionado fights this scourge constantly. Likewise kudzu and water hyacinth, among many others. We up here in the far northwest have recently begun to have serious trouble with Siberian crown vetch, a horrid invasive vining legume that is driving out large swaths of native wildflowers, and even invading lawns.

frimble3
07-27-2012, 06:54 AM
More or less what Unimportant said. What do they want these new species for?
If most of the people aren't going into the Outlands, all they know is what they're being sold/told. What's their knowledge of the rest of the world? Do they know there are other choices?
For example, if they don't go into the Outlands, they're not going to release animals or plants to 'look pretty'. If they don't hunt for sport, they aren't going to introduce animals that are fun to chase.
Introducing novelty items implies excess money and resources. If they were desperate for food, the emphasis would be on getting more of what was already available.
And, if a trader found something tasty 'over the mountains' why would he want to naturalize it, and ruin his business?
Also, you say 'native flora and fauna'. What about common introduced domestic species: cattle, horse, llamas, alpacas, camels? Any of those could find a niche and go feral.
For that matter, any native species might re-establish, if people are packed in the cities (as well as native large carnivore, preying on them).

Unimportant
07-27-2012, 07:30 AM
Yup -- cats and dogs go feral pretty much everywhere.

Spy_on_the_Inside
07-27-2012, 09:54 AM
What the point was in introduced species is to introduce greater variety, both in meat and plants for eating and and in animals for fur and skin.

The people of the City States wanted more 'selection' than what New Mexico had to offer, so they introduced new species because they don't have to worry about the effects it would have on the environment.

ironmikezero
07-28-2012, 12:06 AM
Remember that there will always be unintended consequences from any introduction of a "new species" - especially if its genesis is through genetic manipulation of existing lifeforms. Induced mutations may engender an evolutionary tangent that alters the current food chain.

Or worse, a mutation that brings forth an ancestral version of a creature common to the area...

Imagine a hardy species like longhorn cattle developing a taste for fresh meat, a mutation much like a carnivorous auroch (Bos primigenius).

Humans might not be off limits

veinglory
07-28-2012, 02:48 AM
Rock and tree kangaroos, that would be fun.

Unimportant
07-28-2012, 03:12 AM
What the point was in introduced species is to introduce greater variety, both in meat and plants for eating and and in animals for fur and skin.

The people of the City States wanted more 'selection' than what New Mexico had to offer, so they introduced new species because they don't have to worry about the effects it would have on the environment.

But they would need to worry. They might introduce one species that wipes out every other species. Now they have no variety at all.

jaksen
07-28-2012, 05:03 AM
Another unintended consequence: the introduction of new diseases to which the city dwellers have little or no immunity. New species might serve as a reservoir for these diseases, whether bacterial, viral or other. Or they may carry tics or other insects that will carry the disease.

Ebola gone wild; new strains of Lyme Disease or babesiosis and the like.

veinglory
07-28-2012, 06:28 AM
And yet our nations are awash with exotics right now with new ones arriving everyday. It is a contemporary reality not a speculative one. In the far future these areas will have more exotics. They will probably also have more extinctions but with human expansion checked and retracted--maybe resurgences and recolonizations of natives too. But the only implausible thing would be presenting it as just like now. And that is without considering climate change....

Spy_on_the_Inside
07-28-2012, 06:46 AM
Something else I was wondering. If society were to collapse, what effect would it have on wildlife? I already know a lot of animal populations were greatly effected by human expansion. What if society ceased to exist? Would endangered animals get their numbers back? Would species that were previously driven away start to return?

veinglory
07-28-2012, 06:49 AM
It all depends on what happens with the environment. relative frequencies and distributions would certain change assuming a much smaller overall population. But if they go low tech and local, they will still need to farm a lot of land.

frimble3
07-28-2012, 08:33 AM
Something else I was wondering. If society were to collapse, what effect would it have on wildlife? I already know a lot of animal populations were greatly effected by human expansion. What if society ceased to exist? Would endangered animals get their numbers back? Would species that were previously driven away start to return?
This http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/radioactive-wolves/full-episode/7190/ is a documentary on PBS's 'Nature', about how wildlife rebounded in the Pripyat marshes after the Chernobyl disaster.
And, 'The World Without Us' a book by Alan Weisman, a book about what things would be like if all people suddenly vanished. I think they made a documentary about it.
And, there's 'Life After People', a TV series. It seems to be more about man-made objects, but there's some animal stuff as well.

Trebor1415
07-28-2012, 09:14 AM
Figure out what types of species you want to introduce, fur animals, prey animals, predators (could also be fur animals) etc., and then narrow it down to a few choices. Remember, you could justify something that doesn't normally live in that environment by saying they genitically modified it to survive outside it's normal habitat, etc.

John Petersen
07-31-2012, 03:14 PM
They would probably welcome, hot peppers, opium poppy and Bass fish.

Hot peppers and opium poppy for medicinal and food stores, bass for food maybe fish leather and fertilizer.

veinglory
07-31-2012, 06:40 PM
The Chernobyl rebound was ultimately considered to be a bit exaggerated. Biodiversity in the areas is actually down. Only radiation resistant animals like insects and spiders are really doing well.

John Petersen
08-01-2012, 06:17 AM
If radiation is an issue, sunflowers might be a good call as they are used for phytoremediation.