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Delimitation of the embryonic thermosensitive period for sex determination using an embryo growth model reveals a potential bias for sex ratio prediction in turtles
- Girondot, Marc, Monsinjon, Jonathan, Guillon, Jean-Michel
- Journal of thermal biology 2018 v.73 pp. 32-40
- Crocodylia, embryogenesis, growth models, hatching, neonates, nests, phenotype, prediction, sex determination, sex ratio, temperature, turtles
- The sexual phenotype of the gonad is dependent on incubation temperature in many turtles, all crocodilians, and some lepidosaurians. At hatching, identification of sexual phenotype is impossible without sacrificing the neonates. For this reason, a general method to infer sexual phenotype from incubation temperatures is needed. Temperature influences sex determination during a specific period of the embryonic development, starting when the gonad begins to form. At constant incubation temperatures, this thermosensitive period for sex determination (TSP) is located at the middle third of incubation duration (MTID). When temperature fluctuates, the position of the thermosensitive period for sex determination can be shifted from the MTID because embryo growth is affected by temperature. A method is proposed to locate the thermosensitive period for sex determination based on modelling the embryo growth, allowing its precise identification from a natural regime of temperatures. Results from natural nests and simulations show that the approximation of the thermosensitive period for sex determination to the middle third of incubation duration may create a quasi-systematic bias to lower temperatures when computing the average incubation temperature during this period and thus a male-bias for sex ratio estimate.