Ecological Adaptation and Conservation Biology Group —— Hilights

1. Embryos of turtles can Influence their own sexual destinies

We found that turtle embryos sought optimal temperatures via behavioral thermoregulation to influence their own sexual destinies, and predicted that embryonic behavioral thermoregulation might be able to buffer the sex ratio bias induced by climate change. This study demonstrates the adaptive significance of behavioral thermoregulation by turtle embryos and sheds new light on how turtles would respond to climate change.

2. A global test of the cold-climate hypothesis for the evolution of viviparity

We found that “viviparous” embryos develop faster in cold regions but slower in hot regions than “oviparous” embryos by using ecological mechanistic models. The global pattern of embryonic developmental time matched the geographic distribution of the two parity modes of squamates. This study verifies the cold-climate hypothesis of viviparity evolution and reveals physiological mechanisms that potentially facilitate the adaptation of oviparous and viviparous squamates in divergent climates.

3.The maternal nest-site choice has great significance in determining the fitness of offspring.

We found females chose warm and moist nest sites that enhance the fitness of offspring. In addition, we investigated the effects of seasonal variation in nest temperatures on embryonic and offspring development. We found a temporal matching between embryonic physiology and seasonal temperatures, and thus proposed a new hypothesis of‘temporal matching’ (Li et al,. 2018, Functional Ecology; Sun et al., 2018, Functional Ecology).