Our recent placement of Villagers on the Endangered Species List had us researching means to repopulate and protect their natural habitats.
The first task was a careful study of mating patterns and behavior as well as their natural predators and obstacles to reproduction. It was quickly apparent that an increase of predation was not the significant cause of species decline.
After several confounding studies one sharp researcher hypothesized and confirmed that there was a human-induced agent, MoBGriEF*, that was endangering food sources and inhibiting the natural foraging behaviors of the species. A swift program to stem the flow of the MoBGriEF agent into the natural environment was instituted immediately as well as developing alternative agents and compounds to replace MoBGriEF for uses that were still required, chiefly in the construction industry and pest control.
However, with only 5 known Villagers surviving in the wild we realized immediately that there was not enough individuals to guarantee species survival. To protect the species from its near certain demise we would have to develop a synthetic means of coaxing their reproduction in a controlled habitat. After a sufficient population was raised some of the subjects would then be re-introduced to their natural surroundings to hopefully raise new young and recover the species.
Below we describe a synthetic habitat for Villagers that we have used to successfully breed the species. Further we found several resource benefits to the mechanisms used to induce breeding. An additional engineering team was scrabbled together to exploit these mechanisms.
Several designs were considered. Many showed a lot of promise but were either very expensive or too fragile to be practical. In the end a simpler design was chosen. Initially we had concerns as to the efficacy and were planning to build multiple habitats. This proved unnecessary as the prototype exceeded expectations.
The design is a somewhat modified version of docm77‘s design. It consists of twelve doors to a side constructed around two central pools for 48 total doors. The pools have water sources that are place to flow towards the center drainage.
Placement of the habitat is extremely important as the species habitat is very sensitive to the environment around them. To eliminate environmental influences the habitat was built at an elevation of 170. A second habitat was planned directly above it at an elevation of 250 (70 blocks above) but was scrapped (later this was built with additional funding). The habitat must be at least 32 horizontal blocks away from any other valid “houses” in all directions as described in the science publication Wiki of MineCraft. Additionally, due to the urgency of the re-population effort a desire to be placed near our researchers was essential. This made placement difficult but eventually a suitable spot was found directly above XP Farm. As it happened the unique underground construction of XP Farm gave the researchers high confidence that the surroundings both around and underground was clear of harmful environmental influences.
Villager Capture and Selection
Only one location known to contain more than a single Villager individual was known, Chasm. Chasm was a significant distance from where the habitat would be built. Although the capture of the Villager species is without challenge, moving a Villager without harming the subject over great distances is difficult. A special purpose rail-system was built between the planned Habitat construction location and Chasm at significant expense.
Proper selection of the two Villagers to be used in the program was also essential. At least one of the Villagers was required to be of the ‘Farmer’ profession, a genetic trait of some of Villagers. Thankfully, at Chasm there was indeed one individual with the necessary genetic markers.
The Habitat is constructed such that there is suitable farmland in four “pods”, one pod per side. The pods are connected via a thin walkway allowing Villagers to travel from pod to pod and encouraging congregation within each pod. Additionally the interior of the “houses” are all connected internally. Again to encourage breeding during their nocturnal behavior.
Within two days there were sufficient breeding that the population self-stabilized at ~16 individuals. Re-introduction eventually to Chasm and Desert Village is planned.
Additionally Iron Golems are spawned at this population level within the synthetic Habitat. The Golems are spawned within the two pools which are the only suitable locations. The flowing water causes the Golems to fall through the center apertures into a collection chamber. Once in the collection chamber dissection of the Golem into raw materials occurs by Piston crushers. The Dissection device is timing controlled with a Hopper Clock. Through experimentation we found it takes approximately one minute to adequately and completely dissect a Golem into raw components. The raw materials are collected by a moving water stream and drop into a hopper which stacks the material in the chest at ground level.
This process was surprisingly efficient. Once the Villager population reached sustainable levels enough Golems were produced in a single day to collect 7 full stacks of Iron Ingots and nearly 2 stacks of Red Poppies.