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Most organisms experience thermal variability in their environment; however, our understanding of how organisms cope with this variation is under-developed. For example, in organisms with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), an inability to predict sex ratios under fluctuating incubation temperatures in the field hinders predictions of how species with TSD will fare in a changing climate. To better understand how sex determination is affected by thermal variation, we incubated Trachemys scripta eggs using a "heat wave" design, where embryos experienced a male-producing temperature of 25 ± 3 °C for the majority of development and varying durations at a female-producing temperature of 29.5 ± 3 °C during the window of development when sex is determined. We compared the sex ratios from these incubation conditions to a previous data set that utilized a similar heat wave design, but instead incubated eggs at a male-producing temperature of 27 ± 3 °C but utilized the same female-producing temperature of 29.5 ± 3 °C. We compared the sex ratio reaction norms produced from these two incubation conditions and found that, despite differences in average temperatures, both conditions produced 50:50 sex ratios after ∼8 days of exposure to female-producing conditions. This emphasizes that sex can be determined in just a few days at female-producing conditions and that sex determination is relatively unaffected by temperatures outside of this short window. Further, these data demonstrate the reduced accuracy of the Constant Temperature Equivalent model (the leading method of predicting sex ratios) under thermally variable temperatures. Conceptualizing sex determination as the number of days spent incubating at female-producing conditions rather than an aggregate statistic is supported by the mechanistic underpinnings of TSD, helps to improve sex ratio estimation methods, and has important consequences for predicting how species with TSD will fare in a changing climate.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Integrative and comparative biology
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The maintenance of certain aspects of the environment within a defined space to facilitate the function of that space; aspects controlled include air temperature and motion, radiant heat level, moisture, and concentration of pollutants such as dust, microorganisms, and gases. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)
A method of analyzing the variation in utilization of health care in small geographic or demographic areas. It often studies, for example, the usage rates for a given service or procedure in several small areas, documenting the variation among the areas. By comparing high- and low-use areas, the analysis attempts to determine whether there is a pattern to such use and to identify variables that are associated with and contribute to the variation.
Transmission of energy or mass by a medium involving movement of the medium itself. The circulatory movement that occurs in a fluid at a nonuniform temperature owing to the variation of its density and the action of gravity. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed; Webster, 10th ed)
Measurement of the temperature of a material, or of the body or an organ by various temperature sensing devices which measure changes in properties of the material that vary with temperature, such as ELASTICITY; MAGNETIC FIELDS; or LUMINESCENCE.
The failure by the observer to measure or identify a phenomenon accurately, which results in an error. Sources for this may be due to the observer's missing an abnormality, or to faulty technique resulting in incorrect test measurement, or to misinterpretation of the data. Two varieties are inter-observer variation (the amount observers vary from one another when reporting on the same material) and intra-observer variation (the amount one observer varies between observations when reporting more than once on the same material).