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Can reptiles survive climate change?

It’s possible the turtle population could be made up entirely of one sex as a result of warming temperatures, according to an evolutionary ecologist and global change biologist at The University of Toledo.

Refsnider

Refsnider

Dr. Jeanine Refsnider, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, will take on the topic in her lecture titled “Can Reptiles Survive Climate Change?” Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

The event is part of the UT Lake Erie Center Fall Lecture Series.

“Although we rarely hear about them, reptiles are particularly vulnerable to climate change,” Refsnider said. “Reptiles are entirely dependent on the environment around them to regulate their body temperature. If air temperatures become too warm, reptiles can suffer heat stress and even death.”

The scientist says in many reptiles — including most Ohio turtles — the sex of juveniles is determined entirely by the temperature in the nest during egg incubation.

“Therefore, climate change could result in reptile populations made up entirely of one sex,” Refsnider said.

The public is invited to Refsnider’s free lecture about how reptiles are coping with climate change around the world and in Toledo.