Wemic and Human Population Dynamics
Kingdoms and Honor is a "realistic" fantasy setting, that is, it reflects the way things work in the real world as accurately as possible, given a fantasy world's drastic alterations in cosmology, theology, and natural philosophy.
So thorps, villages, towns, cities, and nations to echo real world reality for food production, population densities, availibility or resources, etc. This data on population density sheds light on the topic.
Wemics in the kingdom of Kalerre live off aurochs (giant wild cattle) that they have domesticated for food. Kalerre's herding-based economy, grounded in realistic ecology, supports a population density of 0.5 wemic per square mile in fertile areas, ranging down to 0.1 wemic per square mile.
Using this info, one can determine the wemic population of Kalerre, the Land where most wemics dwell.
Humans, with their higher tech and agricultural lifestyle, can live more efficiently, packing far more people into each square mile than wemics. It is reasonable and realistic to calculate human populations based on 50 to 100 people per square mile densities.
A Web site that offers ideas on this topic can be found at: www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm.
My philosophy for wemics is described in my essay on wemics -- note especially the sections on food production and food production efficiency (scroll down).
I'm starting with the assumption that wemics in the Kingdom of Kalerre exist exclusively on herd beasts that they have domesticated. My model is simplistic because it ignores the impact of wild game as a food source, but this just makes my model more conservative, which is fine.
Since wemics depend on herds, wemic population density is directly related to the question of how many herd animals the land can support.
A 2,000-lb auroch needs 24,000 lbs of dry mass food per year. Fertile savannah produces 4,000 lbs of dry mass per year, but only half of that is available for use. So at 2,000 lbs of dry mass food per acre, a single acre will support 1/12 of a auroch annually -- that is, 12 acres will support one auroch. (see NOTE, below)
A maintained herd of auroch massing 8,000 lbs will support one 800-lb wemic over the course of a year. That means that a herd must have 4 auroch for each wemic. Which means that for each wemic, 48 acres of pasturage must be grazed by wemic herds.
For drier and less fertile pasturage, up to 250 acres of pasturage might be needed per wemic.
Changing acres to square miles, we convert 1 wemic per 48 acres to 1 wemic per .075 square miles, or 13.3 wemics per square mile. 13 wemics is a medium-size pride.
But all the land area in a wemic pride's territory is not prime pasture! Large parts will be unsuitable -- badlands, ravines, dry streambeds, hillsides, bluffs, mesas, canyons, etc.
Let's say 50 percent of a wemic range is not usable. that means a 13-wemic pride now needs two square miles.
But it is not just wemic herds who graze the land -- there are mice, rabbits, deer, antelope, zebra, and others. Due to competition, let's say that the 13-wemic pride now needs three square miles.
Plus the land has to support the herd in winter -- which requires wider grazing areas when grasses are hard to find. Let's say the land will support only one quarter the usual number of aurochs in winter. Granted, aurochs store fat and can go hungry in winter, but let's double the amount of needed land to allow for winter, drought, and other calamities. That's six square miles per 13-wemic pride.
And of the land that is good pasture, all of it cannot be used all the time -- or else it will be overgrazed and become desert. In modern range management, rotated herding is used, and some pasture lies fallow each year. Wemics live lightly on the land, so it seems reasonable to say that wemics use only a quarter of the pasturage they need in general. That suggests a 24 square-mile range for a 13-wemic pride. To round it off further, let's say that the average pride has 12.5 wemics and covers a 25 square mile territory. That means that wemic population density runs around one wemic every two square miles, and the average pride covers a range that is a square 5 miles to a side.
All this is for fertile grasslands that yield 4,000 lbs of dry mass annually, supporting a population density of 0.5 wemic per square mile. In less fertile regions, the population density is even lower -- let's say up to 0.1 wemic per square mile.
With this data in hand, one can to map out the fertility of regions in Kalerre and then to calculate Wemic populations.
Background on human population density.
In 1790 Rhode Island had a population of 69,000, of which 19 percent was classified as urban, and 81 percent as rural. That means the rural population was 55,890. Let's take a guess that 80 percent of the rural population was farm folk -- the other 20 percent of rural Rhode Islanders were fishers, artisans, innkeepers, clergy, etc. That leaves my best guess population density for farm folk on farmland of 44,712 farmers.
I picked Rhode Island with the idea that even in 1790, RI was "filled up" -- that is, completely settled. In other states of the time and later, there was wilderness to be "tamed." I assume that all arable land in RI was under cultivation by 1790.
Its area is 1,545 square miles, but 500 sq mi is inland water. So actual land area is 1,045 square miles. At a total population in 1790 of 69,000, that's 45 people per square mile, or 66 people per square mile if you only count dry land.
Modern RI has 700 farms averaging 94 acres each in size. That's about 70,000 cultivated acres, or 109 square miles. That suggests that just 10 percent of Rhode Island's area is fit for cultivation. Well, fit for modern cultivation, anyway -- farmers used less fertile land 200 years ago, and much farmable land has no doubt been taken over for use as housing, freeways, malls, and industrial parks. Let's be generous and say that 25 percent of RI was under cultivation in 1790. That's 261 square miles of farmland on which 44,712 farmers dwell -- or 171 people per square mile, for farms.
For the sake of comparisons, one site on fantasy game and medieval demographics says that typical agriculture-based "medieval" areas should see population densities ranging from 30 to 120 people per square mile. This source says that in real world examples, 14th-century data ranged from 105 people per square mile (France) to 42 (England).
This 30 to 120 people per square mile range meshes nicely with my estimate based on RI 1790 population demographics of 45 to 177 people per square mile. Sources: www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/articles/r/r022000686f.html www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm
NOTE: Background info on dry mass yields for different kinds of grasslands.
Especially note the essay titled "GROWING GRASS AND GRASS-EATERS By Marc Horney, CSU Extension, El Paso County," at www.co.el-paso.co.us/CSUExten/extag4b.htm
El Paso County, Colo. -- 1,200 to 1,800 lbs of dry mass per acre per year (good year) El Paso County, Colo. -- 600 to 900 lbs of dry mass per acre per year (normal year), at www.co.el-paso.co.us/CSUExten/extag4b.htm
Coastal ryegrass varieties, Miss. -- 4,000 to 6,500 lbs of dry mass per acre per year Coastal bermudagrass varieties, Miss. -- 4,700 to 9,200 lbs of dry mass per acre per year Prairie varieties, Miss. -- 3,200 to 4,800 lbs of dry mass per acre per year, at www.mafes.msstate.edu/pubs/ib342-t.htm
Dry Camaroon riverine Acacia -- 4,461 lbs of dry matter per acre per year [5k kg/ha/yr] Dry Camaroon typical savannah -- 2,231 lbs of dry matter per acre per year, at www.fao.org/wairdocs/ilri/x5520b/x5520b0y.htm
American tallgrass prairie -- 4,800 lbs of dry matter per acre per year [1 AUM/acre/6 mos.] American desert grassland -- 960 lbs of dry matter per acre per year [0.2 AUM/acre/6 mos.] Wetlands -- 4,500 to 5,500 lbs of dry matter per acre per year Sandy, steep slopes -- 1,750 to 3,000 lbs of dry matter per acre per year, at www.ianr.unl.edu/ianr/anisci/451/course_info/range_sites.htm
June 7, 2001 -- I know some of these links are broken -- I'm working on fixing them!1>