Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turtles' mating habits protect against effects of climate change

Date:
January 26, 2012
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
The mating habits of marine turtles may help to protect them against the effects of climate change. The study shows how the mating patterns of a population of endangered green turtles may be helping them deal with the fact that global warming is leading to a disproportionate number of females being born.

Green turtle hatchling.
Credit: Photo by Kimberley Stokes, University of Exeter

The mating habits of marine turtle may help protect them against the effects of climate change, according to new research led by the University.

Published Jan. 25 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study shows how mating patterns of a population of endangered green turtles may be helping them deal with the fact that global warming is leading to a disproportionate number of females being born.

The gender of baby turtles is determined by the temperature of the eggs during incubation, with warmer temperatures leading to more females being born. Higher average global temperatures mean that offspring from some populations are predominantly female. This is threatening the future of some populations and there are concerns that inbreeding within groups due to a lack of males will lead to health problems.

The study focused on a population of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas, nesting in Northern Cyprus, where, due to the high summer temperatures, 95 per cent of babies are female. The study involved a team from the University of Exeter (UK), University of Lefke (Turkey) and North Cyprus Society for Protection of Turtles. Through DNA testing, they were able to ascertain the paternity of baby turtles and, contrary to what they had expected, they found a large number of mating males.

The researchers found that 28 males sired offspring with 20 nesting females: an average of 1.4 males for every female. This means that each female's offspring were sired by one or more fathers. The researchers were surprised to find no evidence that any males fathered offspring born in that season with more than one female.

The Cornwall Campus-based research team had thought that one single male might be breeding with multiple females. However, their results suggest that a large number of males are mating with different females at different times. This means that there is less chance of inbreeding.

The team also carried out satellite tracking to discover that males cover thousands of miles of ocean within one breeding season. This suggests they could have also been mating with females at other sites in Turkey or North Africa.

Lead researcher University of Exeter Biosciences PhD student Lucy Wright said: "It is fantastic to know that there are so many males fathering offspring in this population of green turtles. There is great concern that a lack of males could lead to inbreeding in small populations of marine turtles, potentially causing a population crash. However our research suggests that there are more males out there than expected considering the female-biased hatchling sex ratios and that their mating patterns will buffer the population against any potential feminising effects of climate change."

Corresponding author Dr Annette Broderick added: "Climate change remains a great threat to marine turtles, but our ongoing research will help us focus on where the priority areas are for management that may help them cope with future change."

The work was funded by a NERC studentship with additional support from NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Sheffield.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. I. Wright, K. L. Stokes, W. J. Fuller, B. J. Godley, A. McGowan, R. Snape, T. Tregenza, A. C. Broderick. Turtle mating patterns buffer against disruptive effects of climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2285

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Turtles' mating habits protect against effects of climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124200106.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2012, January 26). Turtles' mating habits protect against effects of climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124200106.htm
University of Exeter. "Turtles' mating habits protect against effects of climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124200106.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins