Giving Compass’ Take:
• Fred Love reports that research indicates that rising temperatures due to climate change will threaten painted turtles.
• How can funders help to further clarify the impacts of climate change? What can donors do to help reduce the extent and impacts of climate change?
Changes in temperature as a result of climate change could devastate a range of species for which temperature determines sex during critical stages of development, according to new research.
Rising temperatures, along with wider oscillations in temperature, could disrupt the ratio of males to females in painted turtle populations and threaten the survival of the species, says Nicole Valenzuela, a professor of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology at Iowa State University who led the research.
Painted turtles undergo temperature-dependent sex determination while developing inside the egg. Eggs exposed to warmer temperatures tend to produce females, while cooler temperatures tend to produce males, Valenzuela says.
Numerous turtle species as well as crocodilians, some lizards, and the tuatara also go through temperature-dependent sex determination. And increasing average temperatures combined with stronger thermal fluctuations that result from climate change could lead to drastic shifts in the demographics of those species, she says, eventually leading to population collapse and possibly extinction.
For the study, which appears in Scientific Reports, Valenzuela and coauthors exposed eggs from Iowa to temperatures recorded in nests from three different painted turtle populations in Iowa, Nebraska, and Canada. The researchers also recorded the proportion of males and females in these areas. That allowed the experiments to compare the responses of multiple painted turtle populations, which showed that not all populations exhibit the same sensitivity to temperature, Valenzuela says.
Read the full article about painted turtles by Fred Love at Futurity.
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