Graham Etherington, Earlham Institute
Once quite widespread across the prairie lands of North America, persecution and disease reduced numbers of the Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) to only eight individuals. Due to a captive breeding and release program, numbers are now around 1,200 individuals. At The Earlham Institute on the Norwich Research Park, the Vertebrate and Health Genomics Group are interested in conservation genomics and the genetics of near-extinction. We use Black-footed Ferret data to answer questions about how populations lose genomic variation during population bottlenecks. This ferret was photographed at the Black-footed Ferret Conservation Centre in Colorado during pre-release at the entrance to an artificial burrow.