"Children of Time" (DS9): How long to turn a colony of 47 people into one of 8,000?

In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Children of Time”, the U.S.S. Defiant and its crew of 49 people goes through an energy field orbiting a planet, and finds a colony inhabited by 8,000 people, mostly humans with a smattering of people with Klingon and Trill DNA.

The people of the planet, Gaia, are their descendants. A few days after meeting their descendants, the Defiant is set to have an accident take place, marooning them on Gaia 200 years in the past. Kira dies a few days later in this timeline, because she was injured getting to Gaia, and couldn’t get back to DS9 for medical attention.

In real life, is 200 years enough time for exactly 47 people (Kira is dead, and Odo can’t procreate) to multiply to a thriving colony of almost 8,000?

Easily. Let’s say they couple up and have 4 kids per couple and give each gen 20 years to hook up and have 4 kids. You’ll have over 10,000 in way less than 200 years.

Seems like a lot. I’m not mathematically inclined; can you please show your work?

What is this, elementary school? 46x2=92 (twenty years later) 92x2=184 (40 years) 184x2=736 (60) 735x2=1472. . . keep doubling and you’ll see.

Haha, okay.

Another question, then: Is 47 people enough to have a breeding population without critical in-breeding problems?

There is the Human Bottleneck Theory. Some time, from 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, the human population shrunk down to as little as 3000 people. And here we are almost 8 billion people later. You get the humans you get and as long as they can have babies and their babies can have babies, then you live with the genetics you got.

If they’re extremely diverse they would be OK. You could have 47 people all of significantly different origins - native Inuit, Han Chinese, African, Pashtun, aboriginal Australian, lily-white Scandinavians, Slavic Russian, Hispanic, Caribbean, etc. and it would do.

I find google searches to be an excellent resource to answer these sorts of questions. For instance, I googled “minimum viable human population” and found a Stack Exchange question that indicates you’d need a starting population somewhere between 1500 and 4000 to eliminate the risk of inbreeding. Other studies have shown that a colony of as few as 160 could be viable for at least 20 generations, or 400 years.

That said, it’s only as time goes on and genetic makeup becomes more uniform that problems arise, so in 200 years (or about 10 generations) you might not yet notice the issues from such a small starting population. This is also not taking into account Federation medical technology, or the benefits that alien DNA (that is somehow still compatible with human DNA) could have on genetic diversity.

Plus, you know, throw a Klingon into the mix. Lots of genetic diversity there.

Plus you got non-human to admix. We are talking Star Trek.

Edit: Or what ASL said.

Right, a Klingon, a Trill, and who knows what else (we don’t see all the members of the Defiant crew), but mostly humans.

Welcome back after 9 years

But the episode is kind of crazy, the way it ends, I mean.

Odo basically…

commits planetary genocide as an act of “love.”

Regardless of the initial statistics, it is apparent that there was a lot of fucking going on.

Thanks! Don’t ask me why it was this topic of all things to cause me to unlurk after all this time, because I don’t know why either.

Also keep in mind that this is the Star Trek future. It’s possible that there’s some means of finding and editing out isolated harmful recessive genes, and that this is routinely done for infants (including all of the crew of the Defiant, when they were infants). That’d make a population much more resistant to bottlenecks.

That was my first thought, but then it occurred that even that might be caught in the anti-Augment laws.

OTOH, if anyone could recreate the processes, it’d be Bashir (who’s also evidence that they’re not lost, just illegal, himself), and it’d probably be routine on anyone born on the planet…even if he had to lie about its legality to some of the less inclined-to-bend-the-rules crew members.

Tasmania (a few thousand people isolated for 10000+ years) is another data point along those lines.

Oh, and

It’s ironic that you list “African” as a single category, on a par with Inuit, Scandinavian, etc. You’d have a lot more diversity than your list, if you just had 47 different Africans (drawn from all of the many African populations). Or maybe 43 Africans, an Australian Aboriginal, a Chilean native, and a Swede, or so.

The anti-Augment laws are specifically described, in “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?”, not to apply to genetic engineering done to repair serious birth defects. So that’s something.