Fictional Ecosystems for Fantasy World Building
Ecosystems of a fictional world
Exploring the ecosystems of a fictional world is a useful tool for fictional world building. It can help provide a deeper insight into a fictional world, exploring the relationships and dependencies of inhabitants with their environment, while provoking a deeper thought of the consequences of extraordinary events that can change a fictional world.
In an Earth like world, ecosystems will constantly evolve as the life forms within them adapt to the constant changes of their environment. An ecosystem consists of all its life forms and their relationships with their environments, each other and their reaction to change.
An ecosystem includes both biotic ( living) and abiotic factors (non-living) . Combined they create an ecosystem. The ecosystem's sustainability depends upon the consistent interactions between the biotic and abiotic factors. Any changes to these interactions, whether or not they are caused by external or internal influences, may drastically change the behavior and lifespan of an ecosystem and end in extinction.
Human science has identified two different types of ecosystems, natural and artificial. Natural ecosystems are those environments which humans deem to be made by nature. A natural environment can be further broken down into terrestrial (land) or aquatic (water) environments. Artificial environments are environments which are general man made or machine made.
A fantasy or science fiction world may have ecosystems that are similar to those of an Earth like world. The environments might also include space, alien and magical elements, as well as different physical laws. All of these environments might be artificial or natural or a combination.
As a writer, it is important to understand what makes up the ecosystems of your fictional world. Each ecosystem is like a jigsaw piece which plugs into another until the whole puzzle of your world is completed.
Ecosystems provide services to inhabitants and ultimately to civilizations. The table below provides a list of common services that you might find in an Earth-like ecosystem and those you might discover in a fictional world.
Services in a Fictional Ecosystem
Fictional & Fantasy Services
Spiritual & Cultural Services
Communication with Gods
Fertilisation of a Race's Eggs
Alien Connections & Dependancies
Decay of Life
Shade & Shelter
Soil Erosion, Fertility & Health
Interactions with parrellel spheres
Water Services includng filtration
Fictional Ecosystems on the 'Net
- The Morae River
An exploration of the Morae River's ecosystems and the beings that inhabit them
- Worldbuilders: Epona
Epona is an imaginary world. You're familiar with the concept. Science fiction and world modelling are two faces of a coin. But Epona is different from the rest: Epona is consistent and complete. Why don't they all look like this?
Ecosystem Template for a Fictional World
Once you have recognized and listed the major Ecosystems of your fictional world, you may want to explore them further. This useful template can be used for exploring Ecosystems in a geofiction or for background research fictional book, here is a useful template to help you get started:
What service or services does the ecosystem provide? Does the ecosystem interact with any other ecosystems?
What type of Ecosystem is it? Is it artificial, real, or a combination of the two?
Whereabouts is the ecosystem located? Provide a a geographical description and if your ecosystem is stationary, provide coordinates for where the ecosystem can be found.
What animals are involved in the delivery of your ecosystem? List the types of animals and their population numbers. Which animals live within the ecosystem and which animals interact with your ecosystem from outside? Do any of the animals provide a threat to the ecosystem?
What plants are involved in the delivery of your ecosystem? List the types of plants and their population numbers. Are there any plants that live outside the ecosystem that interact with it? Are any of the plants endangered or over populated? Do any of the plants provide a threat to the ecosystem?
What structures exist within the Ecosystem? What are the significant features of your structures? Which of these structures enhance the ecosystem? Which structures provide a hindrance?
Is the ecosystem rich in any of the fictional world's elements?
Observations of Interactions:
If you were a Scientist who was observing your Ecosystem what would you notice? How do the plants, animals and structures interact? Are there any significant cycles or dependencies?