Saturday, 12 July 2014

Dispersal 'key to reptile survival'

By Zoe GoughReporter, BBC Nature

Reptiles whose gender depends on temperature must become more widespread to survive the effects of climate change, according to new research.

Temperature of egg incubation decides gender in some reptile species, such as alligators and some turtles.

Australian researchers found that in populations where more females are produced, male dispersal is vital.

Species unable to disperse could become extinct from some areas, suggested the research reported in BMC Ecology.

Alligators, some turtles, and the tuatara - found only in New Zealand - all produce offspring whose gender is determined by temperature.

These species are considered to be especially vulnerable to climate warming, because at higher temperatures they produce only one sex.

Previous studies have suggested that the best way for reptiles to respond is to alter the temperature of their nest by seeking shaded areas, digging deeper nests and nesting earlier in the season.

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