Sex-reversal observed in wild lizards for first time, global warming probably to blame

Bearded dragon lizard
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Wikimedia

What other species are affected by higher temperatures?

New effects of global warming on, well, everything, are still being discovered all the time. A recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature reveals a new way that lizards might be affected by the higher temperatures (on average) that our planet has been doing through. The researchers studied a population of Bearded Dragon lizards in Australia, an animal who's sex is usually determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and found that the heat was actually making eggs with male chromosomes turn out female after a climate sex-change, so to speak.

This actually is the "first report of reptile sex reversal in the wild", and shows that other lizards could also be affected.

Bearded Dragon lizardWikimedia/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

More worrisome is the fact that the offspring of the 'sex-reversal' female lizards were then born with a different genetic makeup that made them only rely on environmental factors (temperature) to determine the sex of their offsprings:

The W sex chromosome is eliminated from this lineage in the first generation. The instantaneous creation of a lineage of ZZ temperature-sensitive animals reveals a novel, climate-induced pathway for the rapid transition between genetic and temperature-dependent sex determination, and adds to concern about adaptation to rapid global climate change. (source)

It'll be interesting to see if studies on larger populations can prove the effect, and if further studies on other species of lizards can show a similar phenomenon. I'm sure that this type of rapid climate change can have large unforeseen negative effects on lizard populations, and to other species through the various levels of inter-dependencies between all species.

Via Nature, WaPo

Tags: Animals | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Global Warming Science

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