Genetic Drift and Bottlenecked Ferrets

Lab (Workbook): Genetic Drift and Bottlenecked Ferrets

This lab explores how random genetic drift impacts populations, using a conservation-oriented story about rescuing black-footed ferrets from extinction. Students observe the rate of genetic drift in populations of different sizes and conduct experiments to investigate how and why population size affects changes in genetic diversity across generations. Students become familiar with the meanings of heterozygosity and effective population size (Ne) in the course of their experimentation. The lab culminates with students applying these ideas to black-footed ferrets, a species that experienced a population bottleneck and is currently being managed both for population size and genetic diversity.

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Level: Intro, Sophomore/Junior
Key Concepts: Conservation Genetics; Effective Population Size; Heterozygosity; population bottleneck; random genetic drift
Courses: Conservation Biology; Evolution; Intro Bio: Majors; Intro Bio: Non-majors



It was easy to follow and actually kind of fun.

The simulations were easy to follow and fun

It was easy to understand and it allowed me to remain involved and interested.

I liked that it gave me an opportunity to design my own experiment.

The visuals made the concepts easy to follow and I liked running my own experiment at the end.

A fun interactive way to learn about genetic drift


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