Hardy-Weinberg Activity

Microevolution in the Eastern Gray Squirrel
Gray Variant (wild type) Black Variant (mutant)

Squirrels competing for limited resources in their environment

INTRODUCTION What do porcupines, flying squirrels, beavers, mice, and naked mole rats all have in common? They belong to one of the most diverse and successful of all mammals – the rodents. In fact, forty percent of all species of mammals are rodents. Living worldwide in extremely varied habitats, from tropical sea shores to icy mountain ranges, rodents demonstrate the adaptability of life. But how did these chisel-toothed creatures adapt to such extremes? Evolution, on a genetic level, is a change in the frequency of alleles in a population over time. The Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) demonstrates evolution in action. This familiar species, commonly seen pillaging bird feeders and scampering about trees in neighborhoods around Acton, has a geographical range that extends from Florida up through Canada and into the Midwest. Surprising to many, the “gray” squirrel has a black variant that can be born from normal gray-furred parents. Such offspring contain a mutation that causes more melanin to be concentrated in their hairs, giving these squirrels a black appearance. Offspring born from such mutants are likely to inherent this trait since it is a dominant allele. PURPOSE In this activity you will investigate a mystery: black squirrels, usually very rare, are common in concentrated populations in some parks throughout Eastern North America, especially in colder city parks around the Great Lakes of America and Canada. What biological process or mechanism might account for this? Can we model how this might work?

It follows that p + q = 100% of all the genes in the gene pool. In other words. squirrels which are homozygous for the dominant gene make up about 1% (.80. While 19% (2pq = 2 x . The plastic bag represents the environment in eastern North America where the squirrels randomly mate. and q = the frequency of the recessive allele (gray). 2. = homo rec. = Gray phenotype where p = the frequency of the dominant allele (black) . = hetero. let’s suppose that if we counted all the squirrels around the ABRHS campus. For this population.11 x . the square root of . the frequency of the dominant allele must be 11% of the total genes for fur color. Therefore. Ff” for the heterozygous condition. qq = .80 = .89. FF” for the homozygous dominant genotype. and the grayish beans represent the allele for gray fur.11 x . Label one beaker “Black Fur. For example.BACKGROUND As we have seen with these squirrels. So. or 89% of the genes in this small gene pool. and 80% are the homozygous recessive individuals. MATERIALS (per group) Beaker of grayish beans Beaker black beans 1 plastic bag 3 empty beakers Masking tape PROCEDURE 1. (See below): Beakers: Black Fur FF Black Fur Ff Gray Fur ff . we found the population to be 20% black and 80% gray. Label a second beaker “Black Fur. Label the third beaker “Gray Fur.89) are the heterozygotes. ff” for those squirrels with the homozygous recessive genotype. The black beans represent the allele for black fur. The gene frequency in a population for the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium is written as: pp : 2pq : qq or p2 + 2pq + q2 = 1 Key Black phenotype Genotypes: homo dom. some alleles may be more common than others in a gene pool.11) of the total population. 3. Get into a group of 4-5 people and get the materials listed above (6 groups in a class).

" Continue drawing pairs of beans and recording the results in your chart until all beans have been selected and sorted." Repeat this step for the “gray squirrels. if you draw one black and one gray bean. two groups will be doing one of these three situations. Express results in decimal form.) b) For this simulation. e) Determine the gene frequency of F and f for each generation and record them in the chart in the columns labeled "Gene Frequency F" and "Gene Frequency f. Each group will start with 25 black and 25 gray beans. The sum of the frequency of F and f should equal one for each generation.” “Scenario #2 – Natural Selection. Try to make sure everyone in your group has a chance to either select the beans or record the results. divide the number of F by the total." For instance. count the F and f alleles (beans) that were placed in each of the beakers for "black squirrels" in the first round and record the number in the chart in the columns labeled "Number of F Alleles" and "Number of f Alleles.” Notice that since there are six lab groups." Below is a sample of how your results might look: Generation Number of FF Individuals Number of Ff Individuals Number of ff Individuals Number of F Alleles Number of f Alleles Total Number of Alleles Gene Frequency of F Gene Frequency of f 1 xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx 24 26 50 c) Place the alleles of the squirrels (which have grown. and to find the gene frequency of f. d) Repeat steps “a” through “c” to obtain generations two through five. and record the results on the data form on the following page .” and “Scenario #3 – Genetic Drift. survived and reached reproductive age) back into the plastic bag and mate them (shake bag) again to get the next generation. The six lab groups will now be assigned to a scenario: “Scenario #1 – the HardyWeinberg Equilibrium.” Total the number of F alleles and f alleles for the first generation and record this number in the column labeled "Total Number of Alleles. (Please note that the total number of individuals will be half the total number of beans because each squirrel requires two alleles. Put the fifty beans (representing alleles) into the plastic bag and shake it up (represents a mixing of alleles via reproduction between squirrels)." To find the gene frequency of F.4. select two at a time. Scenario #1 – Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium: a) Without looking at the beans.next to "Generation 1. . 5. divide the number of f by the total. place a mark in the chart under "Number of Ff individuals.

creating a landscape full of grayish trees and a forest floor covered by brown. Put the fifty beans (representing alleles) into the plastic bag and shake it up (represents a mixing of alleles via reproduction between squirrels)." Below is a sample of how your results might look: Generation Number of FF Individuals Number of Ff Individuals Number of ff Individuals Number of F Alleles Number of f Alleles Total Number of Alleles Gene Frequency of F Gene Frequency of f 1 xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx 12 20 32 . Place half the beans from the FF and Ff containers aside before beginning the next round. These keen-eyed raptors spot the conspicuous black squirrels and swoop down upon them often before they can escape. especially in large forest tracts where red-tailed hawks abound. if you draw one black and one gray bean. Therefore. Ff. b) Select two beans (alleles) at a time from the bag without looking. place a mark in the chart under "Number of Ff individuals. your group will start with 25 black and 25 gray beans." Continue drawing pairs of beans and recording the results in your chart until all beans have been selected and sorted. d) Once half of the beans have been removed from the homozygous dominant and heterozygous beakers. or ff. c) The FF and Ff squirrels are born with shiny black fur. Do the same for the f alleles. black-coated squirrels easily stand out in this environment. dried leaves." For instance. The shinny. Total the number of F alleles and f alleles for the first generation and record this number in the column labeled "Total Number of Alleles. you may now count the remaining F alleles (beans) in each container. Unlike the Hardy-Weinberg situation above. the black variants are less likely to reach reproductive age and pass on their genes.DATA – SCENARIO #1 (HARDY-WEINBERG EQUILIBRIUM) Generation Number Number Number Number Number Total of FF of Ff of ff of F of f Number Individuals Individuals Individuals Alleles Alleles of Alleles Gene Frequency Gene Frequency of F of f 1 2 3 4 5 Scenario #2 – Natural Selection: a) As with the Hardy-Weinberg scenario. This is especially true in the colder months once deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. Place the "squirrels" into the appropriate dish: FF. and record the results on the data form next to "Generation 1. squirrels with black fur living in a wooded environment stand out against the dull gray/brown background more than their gray-furred relatives (see photo on the first page for an example).

Put the fifty beans (representing alleles) into the plastic bag and shake it up (represents a mixing of alleles via reproduction between squirrels)." Continue drawing pairs of beans and recording the results in your chart until all beans have been selected and sorted.” Total the number of F alleles and f alleles for the first generation and record this number in the column labeled "Total Number of Alleles. divide the number of F by the total. b) Without looking at the beans. f) Repeat steps “a” through “e” to obtain generations two through five. (Please note that the total number of individuals will be half the total number of beans because each squirrel requires two alleles.next to "Generation 1. Make sure everyone in your group has a chance to either select the beans or record the results. divide the number of f by the total. The sum of the frequency of F and f should equal one for each generation. A professor at a college in Ohio studied the black squirrel variety in her laboratory and a few of her graduate students accidentally released twenty black individuals onto the campus." Repeat this step for the “gray squirrels. and record the results on the data form on the following page . DATA – SCENARIO #2 (NATURAL SELECTION) Generation Number Number Number Number Number Total of FF of Ff of F of f Number of ff Individuals Gene Frequency Gene Frequency Individuals Individuals Alleles Alleles of Alleles of F of f 1 2 3 4 5 Scenario #3 – Genetic Drift: a) Unlike the Hardy-Weinberg scenario. and to find the gene frequency of f. The cause of this imbalance is the result of the founder effect." For instance. your group will start with 40 black and 10 gray beans. flooding the gene pool with the dominant allele. g) Determine the gene frequency of F and f for each generation and record them in the chart in the columns labeled "Gene Frequency F" and "Gene Frequency f. Express results in decimal form." On the next page is a sample of how your results might look: .e) Place the alleles of the surviving squirrels (which have grown and reached reproductive age) back into the container and mate them again to get the next generation. place a mark in the chart under "Number of Ff individuals. select two at a time. count the F and f alleles (beans) that were placed in each of the beakers for "black squirrels" in the first round and record the number in the chart in the columns labeled "Number of F Alleles" and "Number of f Alleles.) c) For this simulation. if you draw one black and one gray bean." To find the gene frequency of F.

Try to make sure everyone in your group has a chance to either select the beans or record the results. and to find the gene frequency of f. divide the number of f by the total. e) Determine the gene frequency of F and f for each generation and record them in the chart in the columns labeled "Gene Frequency F" and "Gene Frequency f.Generation Number of FF Individuals Number of Ff Individuals Number of ff Individuals Number of F Alleles Number of f Alleles Total Number of Alleles Gene Frequency of F Gene Frequency of f 1 xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xx 32 18 50 d) Place the alleles of the squirrels (which have grown. Express results in decimal form. survived and reached reproductive age) back into the plastic bag and mate them (shake bag) again to get the next generation. DATA – SCENARIO #3 (GENETIC DRIFT) Generation Number Number Number Number Number Total of FF of Ff of F of f Number of ff Individuals Gene Frequency Gene Frequency Individuals Individuals Alleles Alleles of Alleles of F of f 1 2 3 4 5 ." To find the gene frequency of F. e) Repeat steps “a” through “d” to obtain generations two through five. divide the number of F by the total. The sum of the frequency of F and f should equal one for each generation.

and therefore shiver less (by 11%) compared to the gray variety. .html http://www. gray squirrels predominate due to the fact that they are camouflaged better than their black-coated relatives.Random mating.com/ksu. 5 2) How does the Hardy-Weinberg provide a baseline for identifying how populations evolve. 1 Gen. 3) As you have seen in this activity.org/teachedrs/bi/1994/find. as a function of changes in their allele frequencies? Reconsider the criteria of the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium: .com/set/squirrelsblack. However. Natural selection must not favor any individual. biologists have measured that black squirrels have 18% lower heat loss in temperatures below -10 degrees Celcius.roadsideamerica. along with a 20% lower basal metabolic rate.No natural selection.No migration. .CLASS DISCUSSION 1) Someone from each group should go the board and make a bar graph of their data in the following manner: Scenario: _____________ KEY: = F allele = f allele Allele Frequency Gen. How does this study answer why concentrated populations of black “gray” squirrels are found commonly in some northern city parks? More Fun with Black “Gray” Squirrel Mutants (Check out these cooky websites): http://www. by WGBH Educational Foundation and Clear Blue Sky Productions (2001). Exchange of genes between the population and another population must not occur. The population must be large to minimize random sampling errors. The genetics of these squirrels came from: http://www.htm SOURCES This lab has been modified from a lab entitled Breeding Bunnies.woodrow. There is no mating preference. a lab originally written by Joseph Lapiana (1994). The alleles must not change. For example an AA male does not prefer an aa female.victoria-park.Large population. . 2 Gen. 4 Gen. 3 Gen.No mutation.html . .

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