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Old Jan 11 2008, 11:56 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Between
Gender: M
Fan of: Pern, obviously.
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Default Re: Dragon population and attrition

Kath, I reviewed the thread you linked. A couple of observations.

One concern was how the queens could be triggered to mate more frequently, and some disbelief was expressed that there could be a natural explanation. There actually could be such an explanation.

Pern is a small planet, yet produces 0.9G of acceleration, meaning it is very, very dense. It also presumably has an immensely powerful magnetic field driven by that heavy core to protect and preserve the atmosphere from the stellar wind and cosmic radiation. The perturbations the Red Star induces in the planet's gravity and magnetic fields might well be part of the triggering mechanism. After all, pigeons can sense the Earth's magnetic field, so I see no reason why the dragons would not be attuned to Pern's.

Another factor in the queens' breeding could very well be "pressure" from the community of dragons. Perceived need or danger on the part of the surrounding dragons might influence the queen's mind, impacting the endocrine system, and thereby the reproduction system. Hence, 9th Pass Benden, down to one dying queen, with Thread in the offing might place a tremendous amount of "pressure" on Nemorth to produce a queen offspring. And not surprisingly, that queen turns out to be the uber-queen of all time, perhaps driven to gigantic size and fertility by an "overdose" of the appropriate endocrine input, courtesy of so much focused "pressure" on Nemorth from the other dragons, and the natural biological trigger of the Red Star's approach sensed through gravity or the magnetic field.

I reject the idea of the riders regulating clutch size by regulating the height of flights by permitting gorging. There seems to be no indication of such a practice and such stress is placed on blooding that it seems to be routine practice, even during Interval. As the height and duration of the flight is believed to effect not just quantity, but quality of the clutch, there would be a strong incentive not to permit a queen to gorge, even during Interval.

As for why the Oldtimer queens mostly did not reverse their declining trend, and why Ramoth continued her exaggerated trend, both are explainable. The older queens' system may well not have been able to reverse their decline. Some of the younger Oldtimer queens appear to have done so, but not the older ones. As for Ramoth, it is clear that she is a freak; an extreme example of the species. And extreme examples, however admirable they may be in some respects, often have flaws in others. Ramoth may be stuck in perpetual reproductive overdrive courtesy of the "overdose" of influence that led to her existence.
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