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Biotic Zones of Router 2

A new and improved version of [link] (which I will not scrap because of all the great comments. They're the real work of art.)

So unless anyone gets any earth-shattering ideas (or tells me one of the ideas already here won't work), these are the principle autotropes (can't call them all 'plants') of the 8 biomes that border the Terran zone on Router, the Planet of Gateways.
Added another organism to Z-3
Added a new wrinkle to Z-8

Z-1 (swarm trees and weed-worms)
Diploid, sessile 'trees' produce monoploid, mobile 'worms' (more properly zoophytes). In many species, zoophyte stage can reproduce parenthetically. Parthenogenic clones may remain in colonial swarms or split up, and take up many of the roles filled by terran arthropods and annelids. Zoophytes swap genetic material through intercourse, which expressed when they germinate into diploid trees. Commonly, swarms of clones gather to create a many-branched or thicket-like diploid form. In one lineage, a fraction of the swarm does not germinate, and take on specialized roles to protect, gather nutrients for, or weed around their sibling tree.

Neotonous, permanent zoophytes never become sessile, but instead grow photosynthetic flaps as zoophytes.

Z-2 (tape trees)
Rather than carry out photosynthesis through living tissue, tape trees produce stripes of dry tissue laden with arsenite, which oxidizes under sunlight to produce arsenate and carbon monoxide. Since this biome produces no oxygen (and indeed, oxygen is toxic to most of its inhabitants), it is violently incompatible with all surrounding biomes. It is theorized that this form of life was uncommon on Z-2's home-world when it was linked to Router (100 MYA), but became dominant after a later planetary catastrophe. The presence of more familiar photosynthesizers on the edges of the Z-2 biome support this hypothesis.
(thanks ~AmnioticOef!)

Z-3 (antler trees and boreholes)
These plants are not single organisms, but rather the product of an enormous colony of prokaryotic cells, similar to Terran stromalites. The bacterial colony (called a biofilm) inhabits the zone between the hairy, venous outer integument (the velvet or bark) and the inner support structure of crystallized calcium. Apical leaf spirals are composed of hollow glass tubes, filled which cultures of photosynthetic bacteria.
Distantly related to the antler trees are the boreholes. Actually tunnels lined with a biofilm of chemosynthetic bacteria, boreholes grow downward as they excrete acid and digest the rock under them. A complex network of passages branches up from the borehole, providing fresh water, air-exchange, and reproductive tracts. Seasonally, reproductive tunnels grow a seal at the top, boiling water from the nadir of the hole is routed into them. Pressure rises until the seal breaks, sending reproductive cysts into the atmosphere on a puff of steam.
The bacteria that make up the biofilm in the borehole's nadir are tolerant of extremes of heat and acidity, but eventually they bore too deep and rising temperature kills them, halting further downward progress. Occasionally, however, they will bore into an active magma chamber, triggering a volcanic eruption. This is likely the cause of the extremely active volcanism on the Z-3 homeworld, and a cause of concern for the inhabitants of Router.

Z-4 (puffballs)
Ferrous "wires" are extruded from the base of the plant, providing a substrate for soft, spongy photosynthetic tissue.

Z-5 (prism trees)
Like a coral, a prism tree is composed of millions of clone polyps, each one secreting a cellulose shell. The polyps also extrude glass scales, which they can tilt back and forth to refract the light striking the photosynthetic surfaces of the plant. It is theorized that this adaptation gives these plants the ability to make the best use of light from each of their home-world's three stars. The adaptation has also proved useful in the varied environmental regimes of Router. These trees have, in fact, the only species known to have spread beyond Router, and established themselves on a third planet (planet Z-5b, whose native biota is now extinct)

Z-6 (babel trees, scale)
The planet of Z-6 is tidally locked to its sun, with one side in permanent light, the other in darkness. It is theorized that the immense height of babel trees is the result of competition to reach toward a single-unmoving light-source.
Babel trees begin as spikes, forming at the junction of the reproductive buttresses of two parent trees. The spike is nurtured by sugars supplied by its parents until it reaches high enough to break the forest canopy (XXX meters above the ground). It then grows branches, ending in 5 cm saucer-shaped leaves, which can reach an additional (XXX meters). Respiration cannot be carried out efficiently at this elevation, but instead occurs just under the canopy, in the "tree gills." Fluids are pumped through the tree by "hearts" contained in the roots, and at regular intervals up the spike. The tree's weight is supported by buttresses (which grow both up from the root and down from the crown). When these buttresses come into contact with another tree , they grow horizontally, attempting to push the competitor over. Occasionally, however, and for unknown reasons, neighboring trees will not attempt to destroy each other, but merge their offensive buttresses to form a reproductive buttress, and gestate a new tree. (thank you ~labgnome for the tidally locked world and ~SwordSaint001 for the original babel trees)
In addition to babel trees, the Z-6 biome is home to another kingdom of autropes, the scale, or so-called kinetosynthesizers. Deposits of piezoelectric crystals in the base of the scale drive an energy cycle, feeding the scale every time its wedge-shaped upper portion moves. This unique form of energy production probably evolved on the dark-side of the Z-6 planet, where wind is the only constant source of energy. (Thank you ~AmnioticOef!)

Z-7 (deathray moss)
Like Terran glass sponges, Z-7's large plants are colonies of photosynthetic, amoeba-like organisms. These amoebae construct the larger plant out of glass tests, which refract sunlight. This adaptation probably arose in response to the intense light produced by the Z-7 homeworld's bright, F-type star. However, the Z-7 biome has adapted to subsist in the relatively low light environment of Router, where the glass lenses at the tips of the plants focus light onto the photosynthetic surfaces in the stem. The lenses can also be configured to burn unwanted neighbors, and to spread light to saprophytes. This tendency creates conical "champagne fountains" of glass spires, the oldest and tallest in the middle spreading light to the youngest and shortest spires on the periphery of the colony. (thanks ~labgnome!)

Z-8 (land kelp, floating islands)
Like the tape trees, Z-8's floating plants depend on a photosynthetic pathway at odds with the familiar carbon dioxide to oxygen of Earth. Kelp trees use methane and water to produce glucose and hydrogen, which they store in gas bladders to provide buoyancy in the air. As with Z-2, this form of metabolism is probably a relatively recent development, possibly in response to a global release of methane hydrate in the Z-8 homeworld's past. The Z-8 biome now maintains an active methane cycle, which operates alongside, methane-hydrogen photosynthesis, and an Earthlike carbon-dioxide-oxygen cycle. The fact that two out of three of these chemical cycles are unique on Router to Z-8 puts this biome at a disadvantage that is only somewhat offset by the extremely efficient seed-dispersal methods of Z-8 plants.

Indeed, as there is no wormhole at the center of the Z-8 biome, it is most likely this biome established itself from airborne spores, which may have floated from the other side of Router. How this colony established a working methane cycle so far from its home is unknown. Postulations that tool-building Z-8 animal life is responsible are entirely unsubstantiated.
(thanks ~labgnome for the chemistry!)

Want more (...uh...REALLY?) check out the animals: [link]

Done while listening to: A Cold Dish, the END of Gathering Storm
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Heytomemeimhome's avatar
So far all these creatures descendants of one kind of creature I got transported to multiple planets or am I misreading this?
bensen-daniel's avatar
No, these are creatures from different planets, who crossed through wormholes onto this one, where they all intermingle and compete with each other. Each zone is a biosphere from a different planet.
Heytomemeimhome's avatar
Wow because all these plant Creatures because if they could've long-ago been descended from single ancester, so I guess is just convergence.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Ah, no. This is just the plant (autotroph) page. The animals are here (…
Heytomemeimhome's avatar
 That link appears to be broken....
bensen-daniel's avatar
Oops. Itwas the paranthesis. Try this one.
PeteriDish's avatar
Awesome! I can't look at it in a greater detail at the moment, but I'll make sure to come back later! Great job!
bensen-daniel's avatar
oh thanks! Yes, please do tell me what you think. I'd like to come back to this at some point and make some better and more detailed pictures.
PeteriDish's avatar
what do i think? It's absolutely wonderful! =)
bensen-daniel's avatar
Thanks. Much obliged.
PeteriDish's avatar
Oh, btw, I'm totally watching you if I am not already! =D
PeteriDish's avatar
you're welcome! =)
AmnioticOef's avatar
Excellent job, this is just what I was hoping for! My new favorite is probably the Babel trees. What an alien yet plausible idea, and dramatic too. :) This world will be a ripe ground for stories.

By the way, judging from what Sigmund Nastrazzuro said recently about floating organisms, the bladders on the kelp tree are far too small [link] . Still like the concept though!
bensen-daniel's avatar
Huh. Having read that, it may be that this sort of thing won't work very well for an Earth-like planet. Maybe kelp trees come from a higher-gravity, denser atmosphere world where they can get away with this stuff? On Router, perhaps they only use hydrogen bladders as a way of offsetting weight, in combination with more familiar stiff trunks.
AmnioticOef's avatar
But the denser atmosphere would penetrate a ways beyond the gate, wouldn't it? Especially if the gate was in a bowl-shaped valley...
bensen-daniel's avatar
Yes. Especially if the kelp-trees' homeworld was more massive than Router, the R-7 gateway would probably be at the bottom of a crater-like depression. Why is that? Ahem...

My idea is that each gate is a four-D construct with a spherical 3-d cross-section. What you see is a perfect circle in the air that looks out onto an alien landscape. But when you walk around it the scene on the other side rotates (like the scene viewed through a periscope).

The gateway is permeable to everything, including gravitons. Because Router is slightly more massive than earth, someone approaching from the earth-side will feel as if they are moving at a slight downward grade.

Over time, water and soil "falling" into the gateway on the earth-side have piled up on the router-side. Since the gateway is programmed to always remain tangential to the ground, over time it has built up a small hill on Router, and excavated a bowl-shaped depression on Earth. This process stops when it hits bedrock, since the gravity differential isn't enough to dislodge huge chunks of stone.

Occasionally, falling trees or floods will fill the crater with soil or water. While submerged, a shut-off valve (activated if the pressure differential from one side to the other rises above a certain limit), prevents the gateway from spewing water all over Router. Over time, the Router will rise again to new ground level and re-open.

This is why Router has remained habitable, even after 100 million years of change on its many linked-worlds. Even gateways that have been flooded by seas, or buried under volcanoes, or whose planets became Mars or Venus-like, simply go inactive.

It is possible that some gateways have been programmed to seek different transition zones (the ocean and the ocean floor, bedrock and soil, or the BOTTOM side of the surface of water). That would certainly explain Router's oceans.
AmnioticOef's avatar
Genius. I have an image in mind of a giant conical pit lined with concentric layers of differently colored vegetation (think littoral zone). At the nadir of the pit is a softly glowing wormhole in a pool of standing water (it's dawn on Router, midday on air kelp world :) ).

Here's an image from Wikipedia of what a real-life wormhole would look like: [link]
bensen-daniel's avatar
Glad you like it. The concentric rings of vegetation weren't in my mind, but they should have been. The littoral zone analogy is exactly the idea I'm going for.
As for glowing wormholes. I have an idea about the natives on the Router side using the glowyness of the different surrounding wormholes as the basis of their astrology (since each routed planet has its own seasons and day-night cycles). They're especially freaked out by the babel tree world, because its wormhole is always dark.

That image is amazing! I will definitely use it :)
bensen-daniel's avatar
Oh, thanks. I'll check out that link and make a redesign.
labgnome's avatar
You could go with much larger hydrogen-bladders, or instead perhaps, keeping with the "kelp" idea ling strings of relatively small or medium sized bladders to produce the same effect.
bensen-daniel's avatar
But at what point does the material of the bladders' skins outweigh the buoyancy of the hydrogen?
labgnome's avatar
That depends on the density of the bladder's skin. However if your looking for just structural support that shouldn't be too much of a problem, you only have to achieve neutral bouncy for the whole plant. If you want to transport seeds (or whatever they use), it's more stringent, as you do actually want lift.
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