New paper from the lab out in Proceedings B (linked here). Was a great collaboration led by Samantha Bock from our lab and Russel Lowers at the Kennedy Space Center. Also Thomas Rainwater and Phil Wilkinson were critical to the nest monitoring work at Yawkey Wildlife Center, and John Drake (Odum School of Ecology, UGA) and Eric Stolen (Kennedy Space Center) helped with the modeling approaches.
We monitored alligator nests across sites and years, and then modeled the influence of climatic and ecological factors on nest temperatures. Incubation temperature determines the sex of hatchlings in crocodilians (and of course many other non mammalian vertebrates). Using this model, we then predicted how nest temperatures and sex ratios will change (or are already changing) in the not too distant future. There's also a lot of interesting basic ecology regarding the nesting environment that shapes these phenotypic trajectories, but the take home is that sex ratios will likely change dramatically in the coming years. However, predicting exactly how is challenging due to the ultra steep reaction norms between incubation temperature and sex ratios. We really need to be monitoring hatchling sex ratios in natural populations because if sex ratios skews can lead to population persistence.
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