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Subject: Notes form a Biologist rss

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Nicholas Gauthier
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I have a degree in biology. In particular, I recall learning about tree growth and ecological succession. There are several things absent from this game.

First, certain gymnosperms (pine tress) are shade-intolerant, which means that they don't grow well in the shade, but they grow faster than other trees in sunlight. Certain angiosperms (like oaks and maples) grow slower than other trees, but they are shade-tolerant, which means they can grow pretty well in shade.

As a grassy field turns into mature forest, the pines will dominate early on (growing faster than the oaks and maples), at least until they reach the point of casting shade on their own offspring (saplings). Then, in the shade, the slow-but-sure-growing angiosperms will dominate and replace the gymnosperms as the dominant species.

This is called a climax community, and it will stay intact until disturbance (forest fire, logging, etc).

None of the finer points of ecological succession or the differences between tree types made it into the game. For this reason, I'm going to pass on this one.
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Nicolau Tudela
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Though I appreciate the info on the growth of trees and the ecological (in)balances that goes between them, this is at its core an abstract game and there's no abstraction that fully replicates the intricacies of the real world.

That said you might want to check out this variant which gives some asymmetry to the gameplay.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1944803/unique-species-game...
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Brian S.
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Ignorance is bliss when it comes to this game, I guess. It's doubtful that realism was a goal of this design.
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Nicholas Gauthier
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Nardran wrote:
Though I appreciate the info on the growth of trees and the ecological (in)balances that goes between them, this is at its core an abstract game and there's no abstraction that fully replicates the intricacies of the real world.

That said you might want to check out this variant which gives some asymmetry to the gameplay.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1944803/unique-species-game...


Thanks for the link.
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Dave Rathbun
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Taeblewalker wrote:
None of the finer points of ecological succession or the differences between tree types made it into the game. For this reason, I'm going to pass on this one.

That's why I quit playing D&D. We never once got to kill a dragon.

I play games to escape reality, not to recreate it. It was interesting to read your insights on the differences between the different tree types, as I did not know that, but I'm not going to let it interfere with my enjoyment of the game.
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Adrian Brooks
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I have a degree in Computer Science. In particular, I recall noticing that the sun never shone through the north-facing window of the dorm.

Given my training, this is inexplicable. I can only guess that the Great Programmer In The Sky mistyped one of the parameters in his circularisation formula, and has yet to fix it.

The designer of the boardgame has implemented a circular solar path at odds with the truth, but closer to the Platonic perfection required by all right-thinking personages. I can only hope He Who Implemented The World plays the game, and uses it as a hint to fix reality.
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Slow Dog wrote:
I have a degree in Computer Science. In particular, I recall noticing that the sun never shone through the north-facing window of the dorm.

Given my training, this is inexplicable. I can only guess that the Great Programmer In The Sky mistyped one of the parameters in his circularisation formula, and has yet to fix it.

The designer of the boardgame has implemented a circular solar path at odds with the truth, but closer to the Platonic perfection required by all right-thinking personages. I can only hope He Who Implemented The World plays the game, and uses it as a hint to fix reality.


I think He Who Implemented The World has bigger things to concern Himself with!
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Patrick Garrett
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I have a PhD in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology. My focus in my research program is botany as well, so I have quite a few opinions on this thread . First of all, I'd like to say that I really appreciate the fact that you are connecting some really important scientific concepts to your board gaming. Second, I'm not trying to be argumentative. Rather, I'm just attempting to botany the hell out of this thread cool.

With all that being said, your analysis is pretty biased. Picea species (I'm assuming it's a blue spruce based on the artwork) can actually do just fine in shaded environments. Light availability WILL affect their overall height over time but not typically the overall health of the plant. What's more important in this scenario is water availability! Acer (maples) and Quercus (oaks), can be very slow growing and we DO consider these species to be late-successional but it's hardly as straight forward as you put it. The biggest problem with your argument are the assumptions you're making about how succession actually functions in natural environments.

Okay, let's assume you're right about the plants. Succession isn't necessarily this straight forward process we teach it as- And yes, I recognize that as an educator I am probably guilty of oversimplifying this phenomenon when I teach it to students. However, you should remember from your classes that there are two classic hypotheses about how succession occurs in natural environments. 1.) We have the view of Clements that succession is highly deterministic and proceeds in a defined way based on the conditions of the environment. His view is that there are successional pathways that have predictable end states. So a proponent of Clements would say that the old field you described will turn into a certain type of climax community regardless of what species are present at the onset of succession 2.) Gleason proposed a different view. His arguments suggested that succession is NOT deterministic but rather determined by chance events. In short, the Gleasonian model accepts that there can be chance events, unique interactions between different species, and varying environmental conditions that will result in different successional outcomes. So, this model would actually allow a game like photosynthesis to make more sense .

In the end though... It's just a damn game. Play it or don't play it . By passing on it you're missing a wonderful opportunity to educate your friends about botany and succession.

P.S. The real thing we should be talking about with this game is seed dispersal and seed shadows. I'll save that for another thread though .
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Travis Morton
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I read that as Forest Firr expansion with advanced rules for recovery
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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This is coming in at the end, but I nominate this for Thread of the Year.
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steven smolders
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It's a boardgame meant to be played by family not an computer simulation about growing trees...
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Nicholas Gauthier
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garretp2 wrote:
I have a PhD in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology. My focus in my research program is botany as well, so I have quite a few opinions on this thread . First of all, I'd like to say that I really appreciate the fact that you are connecting some really important scientific concepts to your board gaming. Second, I'm not trying to be argumentative. Rather, I'm just attempting to botany the hell out of this thread cool.

With all that being said, your analysis is pretty biased. Picea species (I'm assuming it's a blue spruce based on the artwork) can actually do just fine in shaded environments. Light availability WILL affect their overall height over time but not typically the overall health of the plant. What's more important in this scenario is water availability! Acer (maples) and Quercus (oaks), can be very slow growing and we DO consider these species to be late-successional but it's hardly as straight forward as you put it. The biggest problem with your argument are the assumptions you're making about how succession actually functions in natural environments.

Okay, let's assume you're right about the plants. Succession isn't necessarily this straight forward process we teach it as- And yes, I recognize that as an educator I am probably guilty of oversimplifying this phenomenon when I teach it to students. However, you should remember from your classes that there are two classic hypotheses about how succession occurs in natural environments. 1.) We have the view of Clements that succession is highly deterministic and proceeds in a defined way based on the conditions of the environment. His view is that there are successional pathways that have predictable end states. So a proponent of Clements would say that the old field you described will turn into a certain type of climax community regardless of what species are present at the onset of succession 2.) Gleason proposed a different view. His arguments suggested that succession is NOT deterministic but rather determined by chance events. In short, the Gleasonian model accepts that there can be chance events, unique interactions between different species, and varying environmental conditions that will result in different successional outcomes. So, this model would actually allow a game like photosynthesis to make more sense .

In the end though... It's just a damn game. Play it or don't play it . By passing on it you're missing a wonderful opportunity to educate your friends about botany and succession.

P.S. The real thing we should be talking about with this game is seed dispersal and seed shadows. I'll save that for another thread though .


Thanks. I have a BA in Biology but it's been over 25 years since I took a course in botany or ecology, so I'm sure I was over-simplifying some details.
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Patrick Garrett
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Honestly, no hard feelings. I think you're not wrong in a lot of ways. I find it refreshing that someone is actually considering how the mechanics of the game relate to real life/science!
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Bob Horton
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I'm an ecologist, and I play this game because it's a great game
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Nicholas Gauthier
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HortonHearsAWho wrote:
I'm an ecologist, and I play this game because it's a great game


Fair enough!
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Another biologist and with the same opinion: great Game even nota being accurate about ecology, biology and other related matters.
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Robert Rangi
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I have Santorini but alas as it will not replicate the joy of building houses in Santorini, I will not be playing this game.

I have Kanagawa but alas since I am not overlooking the great Bay of Tokyo or have a shred of artistic ability in me, I will not be playing this game.

I have Hanamikoji but alas since I do not run an "entertainment" centre in Kyoto or know any Geisha, I will not be playing this game.

I have Love Letter: Batman but alas as I am not Batman nor do I write Love Letters so I will not be playing this game.

I have a sense of humour but because I don't have a PhD in anything, I will not be adding any more lines
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Patrick Garrett
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Zanhammer wrote:
I have Santorini but alas as it will not replicate the joy of building houses in Santorini so I will not be playing this game.

I have Kanagawa but alas since I am not overlooking the great Bay or have a shred of artistic ability so I will not be playing this game.

I have Hanamikoji but alas since I do not run an "entertainment" centre in Kyoto or know any Geisha so I will not be playing this game.

I have Love Letter: Batman but alas as I am not Batman nor write Love Letters so I will not be playing this game.

I have a sense of humour but because I don't have a PhD in anything, I will not be adding any more lines


Ha! Quote of the thread
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Peter Mogensen
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Slow Dog wrote:
I have a degree in Computer Science.


... so do I, and that's why I will refrain from commenting on Lovelace & Babbage.

I wonder if OP has noticed that the pine cones in the game are thrown by blue spruce?
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Michael Cotton
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Did you know real knights couldn't actually jump very far but were able to move in straight lines whenever they wanted!
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