Finding indicates that evolution is playing an integral part in adapting and saving this species with respect to harsh climatic diversities.

Researchers from the University of Canberra have confirmed that climate changes are turning male dragon lizards into females. Published on the cover of the international journal Nature, the scientists stated that a better understanding of such unusual occurrences could help them predict evolutionary responses related to weather changes more vigilantly – the entire balance of biodiversity could significantly be at rest.

Sex Reversal Is Normal!

A team of researchers has been studying Australia’s bearded dragon lizards for ages. They have now conclusively stated that two processes determining the sex of a reptile are present – chromosomal determination and temperature determination.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow and lead author Dr Clare Holleley from the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology explained that in the previous studies, the team had been able to demonstrate, in lab settings, how exposure to extreme temperatures could genetically transform male bearded dragon lizards into females. The present study, however, also shows that these dragon lizards are undergoing these sex reversals naturally as well, and remain fertile afterwards.

Benefiting From Phenomenon

Researchers collected field data of controlled breeding experiments and 131 adult lizards. For further study, Dr Holleley and the team performed molecular analysis, which showed that certain female lizards that had been exposed to warmer climates had male chromosomes. The research team also discovered that sex-reversed mothers (genetically male) laid more eggs as compared to normal female dragon lizards.

Climate Changes Affecting Reptiles

Dr Holleley highlighted the implications of these findings by stating, “Breeding the sex reversed females with normal males, we could establish new breeding lines in which temperature alone determined sex. In doing so, we discovered that these lizards could trigger a rapid transition from a genetically-dependent system to a temperature-dependent system.”

Senior author Professor Arthur Georges from the University of Canberra added that the mechanisms determining sex have a strong role in the evolutionary persistence of a reproducing species. This finding indicates that evolution is playing an integral part in adapting and saving this species with respect to harsh climatic diversities.