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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 33(6)

Sex-ratio bias across populations of a freshwater turtle (Testudines : Chelidae) with genotypic sex determination

Arthur Georges A B, Fiorenzo Guarino A, Melissa White A

A Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, ACT 2616, Australia.
B Corresponding author: Arthur Georges, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, ACT 2616, Australia. Email: georges@aerg.canberra.edu.au
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Adult sex ratios vary considerably among populations of single species and across years, but the best evidence is drawn from species with temperature-dependent sex determination. It is difficult to disentangle the effects of bias in the production of the sexes and the effects of a range of other factors contributing to biased adult sex ratios. In this paper, we survey sex ratios across populations of a species constrained to produce 1 : 1 offspring sex ratios by genotypic sex determination and show considerable variation in adult sex ratios. Raw adult sex ratios of Emydura macquarii emmottii were significantly biased in nine of the 11 populations examined. In all but one case, the bias was strongly in favour of males. Part of the bias in sex ratio was attributed to the differing ages of maturity of males and females – males mature younger than females – which leads to more male cohorts being included in the calculations of sex ratio than female cohorts. However, correcting for this effect brought the sex ratios of the populations closer to parity, as expected, and accounted for an overall 62% of the male surplus evident in the adult sex ratio. Even so, it was insufficient to explain the strong male bias (1.2–2.9) in five of the nine populations initially showing such bias. This provides support to those who advise caution in interpreting adult sex ratio data for freshwater turtles in the context of demography, sex allocation or evaluating the impact of climate change.

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