You might have heard that climate change could possibly increase the size of some sea turtle populations, by boosting the number of female turtles. How could that possibly happen? Well, oddly enough, a sea turtles sex is determined by the temperature in the nest! Turtle eggs incubated above 29C produce mostly females, and temperatures under 29C yield mostly to males. It’s a peculiar way of life, yet a very serious factor that shouldn’t be forgotten when thinking about climate changes affects on sea creatures.
Warm incubation temperatures might possibly have a short-term benefit on the turtles by increasing the number of breeding females which brings the total size of the population up as well. Over time, however, warm temperatures may cause the “feminization effect” of sea turtle populations by only hatching females. Past studies have highlighted how this affect might lead to population EXTINCTIONS. Although the threat of feminization of sea turtle populations has been brought to our attention for many years, there have only been a few attempts to predict how the sex ratio of populations may change in the years to come, providing us with a quote on the future extinction risk.
It must be known that studies remain open, leaving much more effort needed to fully comprehend how sea turtles are affected by climate change. Most studies focused on one site in the Atlantic. There is a need to extend the study to further examine the threat towards sea turtles. There are many scientific opportunities hiding in nesting sites around the world, such as the coast of Australia (home to key populations of several species). Using specific analysis methods, researchers can identify the areas in which climate change and feminization of populations are likely to be most intense. This results would serve as a warning for where future management intervention may be needed.
Hays, G. (2018, October 19). What does climate change mean for sea turtles? Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/what-does-climate-change-mean-for-sea-turtles-26963