New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Prairie Dogs and the Black-footed Ferret

Team: 113

School: Taos High

Area of Science: Ecology

Interim: School Name: Taos High School
Problem Definition

The purpose of this project is to discover if the prairie dog population in northern New Mexico is increasing or decreasing due to reproduction and predators. In northern New Mexico, prairie dogs are not considered important to many people but by researching them, we found that they are directly responsible for the survival of the black-footed ferret. This is important because the black-footed ferret is dependent on the prairie dog for food, making up 90% of its initial diet and the black footed ferret eats a prairie dog every three days . When they do this they move into the burrows of the dead prairie dogs. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two, because the ferret gets food and provides population control to the prairie dogs. Overall, we are trying to show under what circumstances the prairie dog population would diminish to the point that would no longer be able to sustain life for the black-footed ferret.

Problem Solution

The simulation we are running is a predator/prey model using prairie dogs, black footed ferrets, water/food and habitat destruction.We will use the software programs Star Logo™, Net Logo™, and possibly Python™ to build the computer model.We plan on making a predator/prey simulation program to represent the population of prairie dogs over time or until the predator/prey population diminishes.

Progress to Date

We have observed and studied the relationship between the black-footed ferret and the prairie dogs of New Mexico and their interaction with each other and how it affects the other species. We have created a very basic computer model describing this relationship. Other than that there is not much we have achieved.

Expected results:

We expect to have a running model within two weeks that shows the relationship between the black-footed ferrets and the prairie dogs on StarLogo.

Team Members:

  Francisco Vigil
  Drake Bjorkman
  Kobe Bellas
  Payton Hanna

Sponsoring Teacher: Tracy Galligan

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Albuquerque, New Mexico 87190
(505) 667-2864

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