Temperature-dependent sex determination and global change: are some species at greater risk?

Oecologia. 2009 Jun;160(3):493-506. doi: 10.1007/s00442-009-1313-1. Epub 2009 Mar 10.


In species with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), global climate change may result in a strong sex ratio bias that could lead to extinction. The relationship between sex ratio and egg incubation at constant temperature in TSD species is characterized by two parameters: the pivotal temperature (P) and the transitional range of temperature that produces both sexes (TRT). Here, we show that the proportion of nests producing both sexes is positively correlated to the width of the TRT by a correlative approach from sex ratio data collected in the literature and by simulations of TSD using a mechanistic model. From our analyses, we predict that species with a larger TRT should be more likely to evolve in response to new thermal conditions, thus putting them at lower risk to global change.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • Sex Ratio
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature*
  • Turtles / physiology*