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Rachel Martin

Microevolution of Squirrels Lab Report

Abstract
The purpose of this lab was to better understand the microevolution of black squirrels. If there
was a mutation preventing the successful growth and development of homozygous recessive
squirrels, then the number of recessive alleles in the population will decrease. By randomly
selecting alleles from a specific population, all squirrels with the homozygous recessive
genotype will be removed from the population. The repetition of this process will simulate the
microevolution the squirrel population will experience. The data showed that there were much
fewer recessive alleles in the population at the end of the fifth generation than there were in the
first generation. My hypothesis was correct, as the mutation prevented the squirrels from being
able to successfully pass on their genetic traits to offspring. There would have been no evolution
of the population had the Hardy-Weinberg criteria been met.

Introduction
This lab is focused on the Eastern Gray Squirrels two coat colors: gray (bb) or black (BB, Bb);
these coat colors offer an opportunity to study the Hardy-Weinberg Principle and evolution, and
further our understanding about the causes of microevolution in a species.
The Hardy-Weinberg Principle states that in a specific environment where there is a large
population, random mating, no mutations, no migration, and no natural
selection, then p2 + 2pq
+ q2 = 1, where p= the frequency of dominant alleles and q= the frequency of the recessive
alleles. When one or more of the requirements are missing, then there is possibility for a change
in the frequency of the alleles and for evolution.
The main objective of this lab was to better understand evolution of a species and why there
was or was not a change in the frequency of alleles. The objective of this lab furthered my
understanding of evolution in a species through directly seeing how random mating in a
Hardy-Weinberg population differed drastically from random mating in a population with a
mutation. It helped me see how even though there is no real Hardy-Weinberg population, using
the Hardy-Weinberg principle allows biologists to understand evolution better.
I hypothesized that if there was a mutation preventing homozygous recessive (bb) squirrels to
successfully be born, then the frequency of alleles in the population would change. By removing
the recessive alleles from the population, the overall number of alleles in the population would
also decrease. The dominant allele would remain constant, thus appearing more in each
generation when compared to the recessive allele.
Methods
Set Up
1. Take 50 blue gems (B allele) and 50 green gems (b allele) and place them in a cup
labeled Mating Chamber.
2. Label three more cups: BB, Bb, and bb. Figure 1
3. Make a table if needed to keep track of how many alleles/offspring (2 alleles) have been
simulated.

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Procedure
1. Randomly pull two gems out of the Mating Chamber. If they are two blue gems, place
them both in the BB cup; a blue and green into the Bb cup; and two green into the bb
cup. Repeat this process until there are 30 offspring (60 alleles)
2. Remove the remaining alleles from the mating chamber and set aside, they will not be
used. Record the genotype of the individuals and the allele frequency of the offspring.
This will be Generation 1.
Hardy-Weinberg - Case 1
The Hardy-Weinberg principle states that when the requirements mentioned above are present,
there is no evolution in the population. To simulate this I placed all of the Generation 1 alleles
back into the Mating Chamber, and mixed them together without looking. Next I repeated step 1
until there were no more alleles left in the Mating Chamber and recorded the data. This was
Generation 2. Repeating this process, I simulated 5 generations of squirrels. Then I studied the
allele frequency of the population and recorded my data. T
able 1
Non-Equilibrium - Case 2
When one of the Hardy-Weinberg requirements is missing, the population is in a state of
non-equilibrium, and evolution should occur. To simulate this I mutated the b allele so that it
became a lethal allele when homozygous in an individual. Squirrels in the population would not
have the bb genotype, though Bb genotypes could occur. Similar to the previous procedure, I
took Generation 1 alleles and placed it in the Mating Chamber. Removing two at a time, I placed
the offspring into their respective cups as before. However, before recording the data, I set
aside all of the alleles in the bb cup, as their alleles would not survive to the next generation. I
repeated this step, recording the allele frequencies and number of individuals, for five
generations. Table 2
Figure 1

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Results
The data from the experiments show that when the Hardy-Weinberg principles were followed,
the allele frequency remained constant. However when one of the principles was broken, the
allele frequency changed and the species appeared to evolve.
Table 1
Generatio
n number

Number of
BB
individuals

Number of
Bb
individuals

Number of
bb
individuals

Number
of B
alleles

Number
of b
alleles

Total
Number
of alleles

B allele
frequency
(p)

b allele
frequency
(q)

1
2
3
4
5

8
8
10
10
10

16
16
12
12
12

6
6
8
8
8

32
32
32
32
32

28
28
28
28
28

60
60
60
60
60

53%
53%
53%
53%
53%

47%
47%
47%
47%
47%

Figure 2

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Figure 3

The data from the first case (Hardy-Weinberg) is recorded in Table 1. The number of BB, Bb,
and bb individuals differs slightly in some generations, but the number of B and b alleles
remains constant with a constant number of total alleles. In every generation, the frequency of B
alleles is 53% and the frequency of b alleles is 47%. Figure 2 shows a graph of the number of
each allele throughout the five generations. Both lines remain unchanged as the generations
progress. Figure 3 represents the genotype of the population over the span of five generations.
While the BB squirrels become less common, Bb and bb squirrels become more common in the
population.
Table 2
Generatio
n number

Number of
BB
individuals

Number of
Bb
individuals

Number of
bb
individuals

Number
of B
alleles

Number
of b
alleles

Total
Number
of alleles

B allele
frequency
(p)

b allele
frequency
(q)

1
2
3
4
5

8
10
12
13
13

16
12
8
6
6

X
X
X
X
0

32
32
32
32
32

16
12
8
6
6

48
44
40
38
38

67%
73%
80%
84%
84%

33%
27%
20%
16%
16%

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Figure 4

Figure 5

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The data from the second case (non-equilibrium) is recorded in Table 2. The number of BB and
Bb individuals varies in generations 1, 2, 3, and 4 while remaining constant from 4 to 5.
Because the bb individuals died, they were not recorded. Due to the decrease in the number of
b alleles, the frequency of both B and b alleles changed. As each generation progressed, the B
frequency increased while the b frequency decreased. Figure 4 graphs the comparison between
B alleles and b alleles in the population through the 5 generations. While the B (blue) line
remains constant, the b (red) line decreases. Figure 5 charts the genotype of the population
through the 5 generations. The number of BB individuals increases through each generation
whereas the number of Bb individuals decreases through the generations. The bb individuals
remain at zero as they do not appear at all in the population.
Discussion
My original hypothesis was supported by the data. The mutation that occurred affected the
frequency of the alleles in the population. Throughout the Hardy-Weinberg case, the allele
frequencies remained constant, however throughout the non-equilibrium case the allele
frequencies became varied. Tables 1 and 2 clearly show a contrast in the frequency of alleles in
the population over time. Through the non-equilibrium case the number of B alleles became
more frequent than the number of b alleles, just as the hypothesis stated. This makes sense as
removing the b alleles from any bb squirrels that occurred would not only reduce the number of
alleles in the overall population, but also reduce the number of b alleles in the population. Since
the total number of B alleles remained constant while the total number of alleles decreased, the
frequency of B alleles increased. Knowing that the overall percentage of alleles in the population
was equal to 100%, any increase from the original B percentage would mean that the b
percentage had to decrease, which it did. In the Hardy-Weinberg case, the population did not
evolve over the five generations. There was no change in frequency of alleles, and this supports
my expectation of what would happen. However, in the non-equilibrium case, there was
evolution over the five generations as there was a change in the allele frequency. The evolution
in Case 2 is much more definite than any possible evolution in Case 1, as there is a change in
allele frequency in each generation for Case 2 while there is no change whatsoever in Case 1.
For the non-equilibrium case, I expected there to be a change in the allele frequencies, as there
was.
Conclusion
In this lab I learned what it takes for evolution to occur and the many different possible causes
for changes in allele frequency. The fact that there are no such thing as Hardy-Weinberg
populations in real life (that are known at least) does not change the importance of the
Hardy-Weinberg principles. Species are always evolving as the allele frequencies shift.
Regarding the Eastern Gray Squirrel, this lab showed how variances in allele frequencies and
genotypes in a population affect the overall frequencies for the population. Understanding how
species dont follow a strict guideline drove home the point that change is inevitable. Before
doing this lab, the Hardy-Weinberg logic didnt seem clear to me. I struggled with understanding
why this was important if no population looked like this. Through this lab, the Hardy-Weinberg
principles allowed me to compare my data and study how many different populations of species

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are subject to change. With even the slightest variation in an environment, populations face
potentially drastic changes in their allele frequency.