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Among-Family Variation for Environmental Sex Determination in Reptiles

Turk Rhen and Jeffrey W. Lang
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 5 (Oct., 1998), pp. 1514-1520
DOI: 10.2307/2411322
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411322
Page Count: 7
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Among-Family Variation for Environmental Sex Determination in Reptiles
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Abstract

Unlike birds and mammals, in many reptiles the temperature experienced by a developing embryo determines its gonadal sex. To understand how temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) evolves, we must first determine the nature of genetic variation for sex ratio. Here, we analyze among-family variation for sex ratio in three TSD species: the American alligator (Alligator mississipiensis), the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), and the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta). Significant family effects and significant temperature effects were detected in all three species. In addition, family-by-temperature interactions were evident in the alligator and the snapping turtle, but not in the painted turtle. Overall, the among-family variation detected in this study indicates potential for sex-ratio evolution in at least three reptiles with TSD. Consequently, climate change scenarios that are posited on the presumption that sex-ratio evolution in TSD reptiles is genetically constrained may require reevaluation.

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