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Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in Fish Revisited: Prevalence, a Single Sex Ratio Response Pattern, and Possible Effects of Climate Change

AuthorsOspina-Álvarez, Natalia ; Piferrer, Francesc
KeywordsFish populations
Sex determination mechanisms
Temperature-dependent sex determination
Genotypic sex determination
Prevalence studies
Temperature increase
Global warming
Issue Date30-Jul-2008
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 3(7): e2837
Abstract[Background] In gonochoristic vertebrates, sex determination mechanisms can be classified as genotypic (GSD) or temperature-dependent (TSD). Some cases of TSD in fish have been questioned, but the prevalent view is that TSD is very common in this group of animals, with three different response patterns to temperature.
[Methodology/Principal Findings] We analyzed field and laboratory data for the 59 fish species where TSD has been explicitly or implicitly claimed so far. For each species, we compiled data on the presence or absence of sex chromosomes and determined if the sex ratio response was obtained within temperatures that the species experiences in the wild. If so, we studied whether this response was statistically significant. We found evidence that many cases of observed sex ratio shifts in response to temperature reveal thermal alterations of an otherwise predominately GSD mechanism rather than the presence of TSD. We also show that in those fish species that actually have TSD, sex ratio response to increasing temperatures invariably results in highly male-biased sex ratios, and that even small changes of just 1–2°C can significantly alter the sex ratio from 1:1 (males:females) up to 3:1 in both freshwater and marine species.
[Conclusions/Significance] We demonstrate that TSD in fish is far less widespread than currently believed, suggesting that TSD is clearly the exception in fish sex determination. Further, species with TSD exhibit only one general sex ratio response pattern to temperature. However, the viability of some fish populations with TSD can be compromised through alterations in their sex ratios as a response to temperature fluctuations of the magnitude predicted by climate change
Description11 pages, 5 figures, 2 tables.-- PMID: 18665231 [PubMed].-- Supporting information available: Supplementary Table "Field and laboratory data used for the assessment of the presence of temperature-dependent sex determination in gonochoristic fish" and list of references
ISSN1932-6203 (Online)
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