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Data from: Breeding sex ratio and population size of loggerhead turtles from Southwestern Florida

Citation

Lasala, Jacob A.; Hughes, Colin R.; Wyneken, Jeanette (2019), Data from: Breeding sex ratio and population size of loggerhead turtles from Southwestern Florida, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q2kf0

Abstract

Species that display temperature-dependent sex determination are at risk as a result of increasing global temperatures. For marine turtles, high incubation temperatures can skew sex ratios towards females. There are concerns that temperature increases may result in highly female-biased offspring sex ratios, which would drive a future sex ratio skew. Studying the sex ratios of adults in the ocean is logistically very difficult because individuals are widely distributed and males are inaccessible because they remain in the ocean. Breeding sex ratios (BSR) are sought as a functional alternative to study adult sex ratios. One way to examine BSR is to determine the number of males that contribute to nests. Our goal was to evaluate the BSR for loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nesting along the eastern Gulf of Mexico in Florida, from 2013-2015, encompassing three nesting seasons. We genotyped 64 nesting females (approximately 28% of all turtles nesting at that time) and up to 20 hatchlings from their nests (n= 989) using 7 polymorphic microsatellite markers. We identified multiple paternal contributions in 70% of the nests analyzed and 126 individual males. The breeding sex ratio was approximately 1 female for every 2.5 males. We did not find repeat males in any of our nests. The sex ratio and lack of repeating males was surprising because of female-biased primary sex ratios. We hypothesize that females mate offshore of their nesting beaches as well as en route. We recommend further comparisons of subsequent nesting events and of other beaches as it is imperative to establish baseline breeding sex ratios to understand how growing populations behave before extreme environmental effects are evident.

Usage Notes

Location

Southern Florida
Gulf of Mexico