Let us know in the comments what cool purposes you could imagine alien creatures having on gameplay that you think would be fun and interesting.
Man oh man, there's so much you could do.
Back in... 2013 I believe(?) I tossed out a template for random races. You probably don't remember. Or maybe you do. In any case, stuff like that could be utilized for local wildlife as well. Give them some depth beyond "here's stats on how much food/bio data you get from killing me".
Now I realize that brainstorming is brainstorming and not a lot of this is feasible but since you asked, here's some ideas to go alongside utilizing the Ddudey's Random Race Roulette (heck I still recall it!). Feel free to use any of this in any other projects as well or shape the ideas as you see fit!
-Certain Local Wildlife (LW from here on) could be nurtured to join the starfaring races. Like we humans are young species in space, there's probably a lot of alien races that are just on that edge of technology and intelligence to join the Star Control alliances.
-Simple buffs/debuffs. Hunt LW to gain boosts to ship strength/accuracy/intelligence/lore/whatever is fitting while getting penalties to crew morale/ship strength/scanner range/you name it. The fluff behind the idea could be that you absorb brain-stimulating spores that give bonuses or maybe you utilize the tissue material to harden your hulls and so on.
-LW has "greater race" allegiance. Hunt some silly low IQ birds? Piss off the local Yehot. Leave the walking mushroom things alone? The strange Mycan will like you. And so on, you get the idea.
-Hunting LW has unforseen consequences. This could be practically anything, but stuff like killing LW A will cause LW B to get more aggressive (RIP lander) or cowardly (they'd hide or escape fast) towards you. They're psionically linked so your actions affect one another. So if you want quick freebies it'll make your life harder in the long run.
-LW could be utilized as slaves. Along the idea of buff/debuff but you could capture LW and use them as temporary crew. Possibly with a morale penalty or risk of aggravating some greater starfaring race about your unethical actions.
-LW harbors a deep puzzle. Do certain specific things on a planet and trigger an evolutionary step/decipher their language/study their biostructure/etc. to reveal a hidden quest!
Just some random ideas. Very excited about release! Don't muck this up Stardock, be doubly vigilant during launch and a week or two after that to respond to any game breaking bugs/tech issues. You don't need me to tell you that, but it's the first impression that counts. Worst you could probably do is to abandon the playerbase and pump out DLC. Even if different parts of your company deal with those, the optics would be horrid.
But enough of that. Local Wildlife could be utilized in a multitude of ways if you're so inclined. If they're not and stay as cold farming material, I'll live. Sometimes less is more, too. Good luck guys!