Sex Ratio and Environment in Animals

Notably in reptiles, and probably in all crocodilians, many turtle and tortoise species, and some lizards, the sex ratio of a brood is determined by temperature. For example, cooler temperatures in nests of alligators are associated with a female-biased sex ratio among the offspring. It is of note in this context that severe sex ratio bias as the consequence of dramatic climate change has been invoked as a possible contribution to the demise of dinosaurs at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Parental care can also affect sex ratio in the brood; for example, experimental manipulation revealed an adaptive brood sex ratio in the parasitic wasp, Nasonia vitripennis, which indicates that parental care can affect the brood sex ratio because of strong direct effects on the fitness of both parents and their offspring.

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