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Document on the explosive growth and demise of a fluffy population

(Lead researcher Dr. J Calhoun, Hasbio Behavioral Systems, Laboratory of bio-toy behavioral evolution & mental health)

[Internal confidential.]


Given the unprecedented nature of creating what is in effect a new meta-species, a need presents to study the impact of what would occur in the unlikely event that such an uncontrolled population were introduced into an outside ecosystem. Could such a population actually take hold?

Though doubtful, to that end, I shall largely speak of fluffies here in; however my thoughts are on man and what these short lived abominations could teach us of our society and its evolution.

Firstly we must consider bodily mortality, which can generally be broken down into the direct or indirect result of four ecological expressions. (1) Emigration, (2) Famine, (3) Disease, and (4) Predation.

I have omitted senescence as a mortality factor since the number of fluffies who lived long enough in nature to reach a post-reproductive age without having succumbed to one of the above mortality factors seems likely to be statistically insignificant given their rate of reproduction (and general stupidity).

Thus for the setup of this experiment, it will be necessary to take steps to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the impact of each of these mortality factors on a test population. To in effect construct a utopian environment for fluffies.

Here I shall describe how our "safe room" is designed to address these factors and reduce non- seneschal fluffy mortality.

(1) Emigration prevention: A closed physical safe room was constructed from four 1m high walls forming a square enclosure with sides of roughly 3m squared. Although the walls were structured for use by fluffies to increase the effective floor space of the safe room, the fluffies could not climb over the upper portion of the galvanized metal walls due to their stubby little legs.

(2) Resource supra-availability: Each 256cm linear segment of wall was identically structured. Four fluffy sized tunnels of mesh wire were soldered vertically to the walls. The open lower end, just above the floor which was covered with wood chips, gave access to each tunnel. At intervals above the floor in each tunnel four openings through the tunnel mesh and the metal wall gave access to small nesting boxes. Each nesting box had sufficient space (by volume) for approximately fifteen fluffies . Thus there were four four-unit walk-up one-room apartments in each cell.

Each cell contained a food hopper loaded with blocks of blue nutrajell™ that were kept full for the duration of this experiment. By climbing across each other up to 25 fluffies could feed simultaneously on each hopper. Water bottles were considered but ultimately bypassed due to fluffies propensity for drowning in the presence of any significant quantity of fluid.

An abundant supply of paper strips for nesting material was always available on the floor a few inches out from the bases of the tunnels.

Considering the time required to eat, access to food would not have been a limiting variable until a population of 9500 fluffies was reached. Considering that there were 256 nest retreat sites in the 16 cells one would not expect shelter to be a limiting factor until the population exceeded 3840. Due to the tendency of many fluffies to choose to crowd together in numbers in excess of 15 per nest site, at the peak population size of 2200 fluffies, 20% of all nest sites were usually unoccupied.

Thus there was always opportunity for "soon mummahs" to select an unoccupied space for rearing foals if they so chose.

(2b) Weather amelioration: The Fluffy safe room was located on the second floor of a prefabricated metal building. During the cooler months of the year ambient temperature was kept close to 68°F (20°C). During the warmer months of the year large exhaust fans kept ambient temperatures mostly within the 70-90'F (21-32°C) range of the outside environment.

Being indoors, rain could not contribute to debilitation. No evidence was ever obtained to indicate that such weather conditions enhanced mortality.

(3) Disease control: The Batch C mixed color earth fuffies used as colonizers in this study were obtained from R&D at the shortly after weaning at the "chirpy" stage, after which extreme isolation precautions were followed to preclude establishment of epidemic type diseases such as salmonella.

Further all materials found in nesting boxes and on the floor of the enclosure were removed weekly along with any accumulated feces. Bacterial culture taken from these "good poopies" at the highest density of the population indicated that such organisms were not a factor in our study.


(4) Predation: Outside of one unplanned incident involving a stray cat that gained access to the facility and resulted in the loss of a litter of foals. No predators were present throughout the experiment. After the cat incident cell 16 along with all fluffies who had interacted with the "meowie monster" were removed from the experimental population.

Outside of the exception noted above natural mortality from ageing (after menopause in females at approximately 560 days of age) was the primary cause of colony mortality. Although we have not yet determined the proper average life expectancy of a batch C fluffy, our observations seem to indicate it is well past menopause falling somewhere in the range of 800 days. These findings have been forwarded to the generational-conditioning team for use in their "Second Christmas" business case.



Phase A: Explosive Initial Population Growth

Four pairs of 48-day-old Batch C mixed color earth fuffies were introduced into the cell 16 nest box on July 9 20XX. There followed a period of 24 days (here in referred to as Phase A) before the first litters were born.

These 24 days were marked by considerable social turmoil and much crying among the 8 fluffies until they became adjusted to each other and to their expanded surroundings.

Phase B: Rapid Population Growth and resource exploitation

Foals born into the safe room reached sexual maturity and bore young of their own, thus contributing to the initial compound rate of population growth.

Observed population growth after Day 1000 is slightly lower than projected due to removal of about 150 fluffies for "other studies".

Distribution of place of birth (Fig 3) of fluffies born during Phase B provides an insight into the social organization that developed. At 620 weaned fluffies the rate of population growth abruptly decreased to a doubling time of approximately 145 days.

The total foals born in each of the sets of nest boxes were tabulated for the period through the first survey after the termination of Phase B. It may be seen that births tended to be concentrated in some sets of nest boxes, while others had few or none.

This uneven distribution of births reflects a clustering of reproducing females into dominant herds defined in Fig 3 by lines radiating toward the center of the safe room from the bases of nest boxes at the interface between each of the adjoining herds.

These totals also reflect two properties of a closed social system: (1) Bilateral symmetry: The northeast herd, for example, produced only 13 badly colored foals in 252 days whereas the opposite (more dominant) southwest herd produced over eight times as many good colored foals, 111.

Between these two extremes from the location of the peak producing herd toward the least productive one, in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions, there is a decline in the number of foals born.

This trend reflects the attempt by the members of the population to superimpose a more effective bilateral symmetry of organization. In other words the number of young in a herd reflects the degree of dominance associated with the herd leader upon an environment that tends toward radial symmetry.

(2) Hierarchy of groups: Productivity of a herd may be taken as an index of its social status. The fourteen herds may thus be ranked with rank No. 1 assigned to the group which produced 111 young, and rank No. 14 to the one which produced only 13 young (most of which presented with bad colors).

Plotting the number of young produced as a function of this ranking (Fig 4) reflects a remarkable hierarchical ordering within the total social system. This type of ordering is identical to that which results when we examine the degree of activity exhibited by the several males of an interacting group.

The most dominant male is frequently the loudest one, thus as social dominance declines so too does the degree of what we have taken to calling "smartie syndrome".

Our studies show that in a group of 14 males social velocity declines linearly with rank with approximately the same slope as in Fig 4. Thus both bilateral and hierarchical social organization during Phase B contributed to a maximum exploitation of resources that led to an explosive rate of increase of the population.

At the end of this phase all the most desirable physical space was filled with organized social groups.

These 14 social groups totaled 150 adult fluffies (approximately 23.6% of which displayed some level of recessive unicorn or Pegasus traits). R&D has been notified and is attempting improvements prior to significant breeding within batch D.

On average each group contained over 10 individuals including a territorial male (or smarty), associated beta males(frequently including a poopie), females, and their juvenile and sub adult progeny.

At the end of Phase B there were 470 of these immature juvenile fluffies that had experienced good maternal care and early socialization. This excess of juvenile fluffies is likely far greater than could have existed in a colony this size had the normal ecological mortality factors remained in effect.

Phase C: Inhibited Secondary Population Growth & Stagnation

Beginning at Day 315 after colonization and continuing for 245 more days, the population grew at a much slower rate, doubling only every 145 days rather than each 55 days as in Phase B.

Examining the circumstances surrounding this decline in population growth, it became apparent that conditions in our safe room had allowed more young to survive to maturity than would have been necessary to replace their dying or senescent parents.

Under normal circumstances, this excess population could have split off into new herds. However, in the experimental safe room there was no opportunity for emigration. As the unusually large number of young gained adulthood with nowhere to go they were forced to contest for roles in the existing social hierarchy. Males who failed withdrew physically and psychologically; they became very inactive and aggregated in large pools near the center of the floor of the safe room.

From this point on they no longer initiated interaction with their established herds, nor did their behavior elicit attack by smarties.

Even so, these surplus males became characterized by many wounds and much scar tissue as a result of attacks by other withdrawn males. Frequently the return of 2 or more males to this group, who had gone to eat for example, marked an abrupt shift in the level of activity from their fellow "enfie fluffies". Resultant excitation often precipitated one of the resting males into an attack upon his other withdrawn "enfie fwiends" who, having lost the capacity for escape, remained relatively immobile despite receiving vicious attacks. Moral culpability in cases like this often became difficult to assign as fluffies so attacked would often become attackers themselves at a later time.

Female counterparts of these withdrawn males tended to move to higher level boxes that were less preferred by females with litters. Such females were not characterized by the violent aggression of the withdrawn males. As a result of the extreme demands made on territorial smarties to reject maturing mares, their ability to continue territorial defense declined. Gradually the frequency of this involvement in territorial defense declined as did the area defended. This left nursing females more exposed to invasion of their nest sites.

However, in response to invasion of nest sites and bases of ramps leading to them, the nursing females did become aggressive, essentially taking over the role of the territorial males. This aggression generalized to their own young who were attacked, wounded, and forced to leave home several days before normal weaning.

During Phase C the incidence of conception declined, and resorption of fetuses increased. Maternal behavior also became disrupted. Young were often wounded in the delivery process. Females were observed to transport their young on their backs, carrying them to alternate "safe pwaces", during which some were abandoned.

Many litters of chirpy foals recorded on earlier phase surveys were found to have disappeared before the final phase C survey. Such abandoning of young following survey disturbance is a particularly sensitive index of dissolution of maternal behavior.

The combined effect of these several factors affecting reduced conception, increased fetal mortality and increased pre-weaning mortality largely accounts for the abrupt decline in rate of population growth characterizing Phase C. For all practical purposes there had been a death of societal organization by the end of Phase C.


Phase D: Decline of Population Size and death

Population increase abruptly ceased on Day 560 after colonization. A few fluffies born up until Day 600 survived past weaning. Between these times deaths just slightly exceeded births. Beyond the time of the last surviving birth on Day 600 the incidence of pregnancies declined very rapidly with no young surviving. Last conception was about Day 920. With the increase in rate of mortality accompanying senescence the population has continued to decline in numbers. By March 1 20XX, the average age of survivors was 776 days, over 200 days beyond menopause.

On June 22 20XX, there were only 122 (22 male, 100 female) survivors. Projection of the prior few months of exponential decline in numbers indicates that the last surviving male will be dead on May 23 20XX, 1780 days after colonization.

The population will be, reproductively dead at that time, although such death was predicted by 700 days after colonization, the study will continue to observe physiological/psychological effects on the remaining population.

This demise of a population contradicts prior knowledge which indicates that when a population declines to a few remnant groups, some individuals will reinitiate its growth. Turning back to the end of Phase C, the seeds for eventual destruction may already be seen to have been sown.

By midway in Phase C essentially all young were prematurely rejected by their mothers. They started independent life without having developed adequate affective bonds. Then as they moved out into an already dense population many attempts to engage in social interaction were mechanically disrupted by the passage of other more established fluffies.

Lastly, we have observed to the extent that the group size exceeds the optimum, maximizing gratification from such interactions necessitates a decrease in the intensity and duration of such behaviours.

This fragments otherwise more complex behaviours. As a result of these three processes maturation of the more complex social behaviours such as those involved in courtship, materiality, and aggression failed.

For females a clear example may be taken from the segregated "meowie monster" population isolated after the aforementioned cat incident and studied in parallel with the main colony detailed here. The members of this population were kept in a significantly smaller safe room and killed approximately 300 days after the inflection point of the shift from Phase C to Phase D. Among these were 148 females born within the last 50 days before the end of Phase C. At autopsy at a median age of 334 days only 18% had ever conceived

Male counterparts to these highly aggressive non-reproducing females also seemed more submissive and self-obsessed, often secretly dubbing themselves 'bestest fwuffies'. They never engaged in sexual approaches toward females, nor in fighting or territorial defense. This lack of involvement in established social hierarchies often caused them to appear despondent, though it did allow their fluff remain in excellent condition.

Their behavioural repertoire soon became largely confined to eating, sleeping, mumbling to themselves, and grooming, none of which carried any social implications of importance. They were physically healthy but never attempted to cope with the social situation. Rather than socially withdrawing from the system, the implication was that they never attempted to enter it. All of these various types of fluffies evolved in the crowded environment but because of differing roles, or rather lack of social roles or rejection from attempted roles, their behavioural and biochemical profiles were quite different.

Most of the last half of the population born in the main safe room were fully or largely like these self-obsessed 'bestest fwuffies '.

As their formerly more competent predecessors gradually became senescent, their already disrupted capacity for reproduction terminated. At this time only the 'bestest fwuffies ' category of males, and their counterpart non-reproductive females, remained at an age normally compatible with reproduction, but they had long since failed to develop this capacity. In the end, all groups exhibited nearly total loss of capacity for developing a structured society or for engaging in the full repertoire of reproductive behaviours.

Conclusion:

The results obtained in this study should be reproducible when customary causes of mortality are controlled in any species that form social groups. Reduction of bodily mortality will culminate in survival of an excessive number of individuals that have developed the potential for occupying the social roles characteristic of the species. Within a few generations when all such roles in all physical space available to the species are filled. Opportunities for role fulfilment will fall far short of the demand by those capable of filling roles. Individuals born under these circumstances will inevitably be so out of touch with reality as to be incapable even of alienation.

Foals born during such social dissolution are likely to be rejected by their mothers and other adult associates. This early failure of social bonding becomes compounded by interruption of action cycles due to the mechanical interference caused by established individuals within the population resulting in autistic-like creatures, capable only of the simplest behaviours compatible with physiological survival.

Their spirits have died. They are no longer capable of executing the more complex behaviours required for species survival. The species in such settings die. For an animal as simple as a Fluffy, the most complex behaviours involve the interrelated set of courtship, maternal care, territorial defense and hierarchical intragroup and intergroup social organization.

When behaviours related to these functions fail to mature, there is no development of social organization and no reproduction. As in the case of my study reported above, all members of the population will age and eventually die. Troublingly, even for an animal so complex as man, there is no logical reason why a comparable sequence of events should not also take place.

However on the positive side, it seems that even under the most utopian conditions large scale fluffy population outbreaks would eventually be doomed by the inevitable behavioural differentiation that occurs as a result of social environmental influences even given a high degree of genetic homozygosity prevalent in current bio-toy lines.

All remaining batch C prototype live stock has been destroyed.


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Comments

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HuuHuu: So I was messing around on you tube when I came across something called the mouse utopia experiment. I googled up the original paper and couldn't help but be reminded of stereo typical fluffy behavior. The above is derived pretty much word for word from that paper by replacing mice with fluffies. It is indeed a weird world we live it.
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Anonymous1: @HuuHuu: I thought this was really similar to something I once saw... neat.
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Vanguard: John B. Calhoun! His work really needs to be verified and redone again, some of his theories have some unpleasantness implications for the modern world.

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RevMe: Mouse Utopia is so interesting!
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Anonymous2: Wouldn't most fluffies go into the Waana die mode long before the end of this?
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HuuHuu: why? they were treated well. Even the ones who experienced social retardation towards the later phases were not abused.

I'd also argue that this was a real study done with rats (which granted are not really fluffies) but given none went catatonic I didnt see any behaviour that seemed to parellel the wan die loop.
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Anonymous3: Con you tell this story from a fluffy perspective?