Climate change could spell end for Tuatara

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 14:38 09/04/2014
Tuatara
Fairfax NZ

BOYS CLUB: Climate change is leading to male tuatara outnumbering females.

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Male tuatara can expect lonely love lives as the climate warms - before they eventually become extinct.

Males are already starting to outnumber females on Cook Strait's North Brother Island, Victoria University researchers have found.

The issue stems from how the gender of the reptiles is decided in the eggs.

Clutches exposed to warmer temperatures produce male hatchlings.

Because of this, rising temperatures from climate change could lead to disastrous results for the island population, researcher Nicky Nelson said.

The results were published in online science journal PLOS ONE today.

"Our research reveals that as the male bias in the population increases, female tuatara body condition, fertility rates and survival decline," Nelson said.

Without intervention, an all-male population was likely before the tuatara died out completely, she said.

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