Climate change and temperature-dependent sex determination in reptilesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (1994)
Despite increasing concern over the possible impact of global temperature change, there is little empirical evidence of direct temperature effects on biotic interactions in natural systems. Clear assessment of the ecological and evolutionary impact of changing climatic temperature requires a natural system in which populations exhibit a direct unambiguous fitness response to thermal fluctuation. I monitored nests of a population of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) with temperature-dependent sex determination to investigate the causal relationship between local climatic variation in temperature and offspring sex ratio. Consistent with theoretical predictions, annual offspring sex ratio was highly correlated with mean July air temperature, validating concerns about the effect of climate change on population demography. This correlation implies that even modest increases in mean temperature (< 2 degrees C) may drastically skew the sex ratio. Statistical evaluation of the variance in climate change indicates that an increase in mean temperature of 4 degrees C would effectively eliminate production of male offspring. Quantitative genetic analyses and behavioral data suggest that populations with temperature-dependent sex determination may be unable to evolve rapidly enough to counteract the negative fitness consequences of rapid global temperature change. Populations of species with temperature-dependent sex determination may serve as ideal indicators of the biological impact of global temperature change.
Publication DateAugust, 1994
Citation InformationFredric J. Janzen. "Climate change and temperature-dependent sex determination in reptiles" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (1994)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/fredric-janzen/8/