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The Black-Footed Ferret. Amanda Heyn, Laura Icenhour, & Evan Fitch. Background. Black-Footed Ferrets are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae) Ferrets are nocturnal and do most hunting at night.

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The black footed ferret l.jpg

The Black-Footed Ferret

Amanda Heyn, Laura Icenhour, & Evan Fitch

Background l.jpg

  • Black-Footed Ferrets are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae)

  • Ferrets are nocturnal and do most hunting at night


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Background Cont’d

  • The Black-Footed Ferret prey on prairie dogs and lives in their burrows

  • Ferrets were thought

    to be extinct

  • A population of ferrets was found in 1981

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Survival Factors

  • Cancer carried on recessive allele

  • Susceptibility to Canine distemper

    • A contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems in mammals.

    • Canine distemper is fatal for ferrets 100% of the time.

    • First introduced to ferret population in 1981

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Geographical Location

  • Ferrets were once found throughout the Great Plains, from Texas to southern Saskatchewan, Canada.

  • Since 1985, efforts have been made to breed the ferrets in captivity and then reintroduce them into the wild.

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Bottleneck effect refers to the reduction of a population’s gene pool and the accompanying changes in gene frequency produced when a few members survive the widespread elimination of a species.

The black footed ferrets underwent a bottleneck effect resulting in the last wild population site of ferrets to be discovered in Meeteetse, Wyoming 1981.

About 25% of the original 19 founders’ genes have made it into the current population.

Bottleneck Effect

If canine distemper had been allowed to continue in the population in wyoming l.jpg
If canine distemper had been allowed to continue in the population in Wyoming…

  • Would the prevalent genotypes reverse?

  • Would the dangerous recessive allele lead to an increased number of ferret death?

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Vensim Model population in Wyoming…

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Genotypes population in Wyoming…










Time (Month)

Homozygous Dominant : Current

Heterozygous : Current

Homozygous Recessive : Current

Total Pop : Current

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Vensim Key population in Wyoming…

  • Homozygous Dominant=Blue

    • As time increases dominant allele decreases

  • Homozygous Recessive=Green

    • As time increases dangerous recessive allele levels off

  • Heterozygous=Red

    • As time increases heterozygous allele remains unaffected

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Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium population in Wyoming…

p² + 2pq + q² = 1

p + q =1

p2 =.33 Total Population=180

p=.57 HD=42

q=.43 HR=59

q2 =.18 H=79


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Hardy-Weinberg Graph population in Wyoming…

  • X axis=P

  • Y axis=Q

  • As P increases Q decreases

  • P=.57

  • Q=.43

Pictures l.jpg
Pictures population in Wyoming…,0.jpg

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Resources population in Wyoming…

  • Averting Extinction, Tim W. Clark

  • Prairie Night; Brian Miller, Richard P. Reading, and Steve Forrest