May 2, 2015

Climate change overruns resilience conferred by temperature-dependent sex determination in sea turtles and threatens their survival

Global Change Biology
Pilar Santidrián TomilloDaniel Oro

Abstract

Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) is the predominant form of environmental sex determination (ESD) in reptiles, but the adaptive significance of TSD in this group remains unclear. Additionally, the viability of species with TSD may be compromised as climate gets warmer. We simulated population responses in a turtle with TSD to increasing nest temperatures and compared the results to those of a virtual population with genotypic sex determination (GSD) and fixed sex ratios. Then, we assessed the effectiveness of TSD as a mechanism to maintain populations under climate change scenarios. TSD populations were more resilient to increased nest temperatures and mitigated the negative effects of high temperatures by increasing production of female offspring and therefore, future fecundity. That buffered the negative effect of temperature on the population growth. TSD provides an evolutionary advantage to sea turtles. However, this mechanism was only effective over a range of temperatures and will become inefficient as temperatures rise to levels projected by current climate change models. Projected global warming threatens survival of sea turtles, and the IPCC high gas concentration scenario may result in extirpation of the ...Continue Reading

  • References13
  • Citations16

References

Mentioned in this Paper

Fertility
Buffers
Acclimatization
Determination Aspects
Environment
Cessation of Life
Theoretical Study
Massive Osteolyses
Sex Ratio
Turtle

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