Crocodile gender 'affected by global warming'
Crocodiles are under threat due to hunting
Also In The News
Hopes of achieving peace in the Middle East strengthened today after a new ceasefire agreement appeared to hold between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Monday, 27, Nov 2006 12:20
Rising global temperatures could disrupt gender balance among reptile populations, a crocodile researcher has warned.
According to Dr Alison Leslie of South Africa's University of Stellenbosch, crocodiles are likely to be affected by warmer waters as their gender is not determined by genetics but is instead due to embryo temperature during incubation.
In an interview for the Discovery Kids programme A Year on Earth, Dr Leslie said: "A difference of between 0.5 and 1C in incubation temperature results in markedly different sex ratios.
"More female hatchlings due to the cooler or hotter incubation temperatures could lead to eventual extirpation [local extinction] of the species from an area."
She added: "Even though crocodilians have been around for millions of years, and as important as these creatures may be in the systems they occupy, they are a much understudied species."
Further research into how the species can be protected is needed, she said, as they are not just threatened by climate change but also by overexploitation by hide hunters and conflicts with nearby communities, particularly in Botswana.
Dr Leslie and Earthwatch volunteers will undertake research next year to assess the conservation needs of crocodiles.