Publication Details

Hansson, A. & Olsson, M. (2018). Incubation temperature and parental identity determine sex in the Australian agamid lizard Ctenophorus pictus. Ecology and Evolution, 8 (19), 9827-9833.


Sex determination in Australian agamid lizards shows a complex framework of different mechanisms, varying even among closely related taxa. It is clear that discrete classification of these species as either having genetic (GSD) or environmental sex determination (ESD) does not agree with empirical data. Although many species in this group show temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), recent evidence suggests additional genetic or epigenetic effects. A proposed model explaining the adaptive significance and evolution of TSD in short-lived agamids predicts that selection will favor temperature-biased sex ratios in species with intense male-male competition. Here, we use experimental incubation at (near) constant temperatures to test whether the sex of Australian painted dragons (Ctenophorus pictus) is influenced by temperature, building on previous research yet to have reached an agreement regarding the role of temperature in this species. In this study, incubation temperature and parental identity affected hatchling sex suggesting that environment and genetics may work in concert to determine sex in this species. Although our results are consistent with TSD, our data cannot rule out a temperature-by-sex effect on egg or hatchling mortality. However, our findings together with the observed differences of sex determination systems in closely related species within this genus may provide novel opportunities to address fundamental questions in the evolution of sex determination systems.



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