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Trends in sex ratios of turtles in the United States: Implications of road mortality
GIBBS James P. ; STEEN David A.
Road mortality has been implicated as a significant demographic force in turtles, particularly for females, which are killed disproportionately on overland nesting movements. Moreover, the United States' road network has expanded dramatically over the last century. We therefore predicted that historical trends in sex ratios of turtle populations would be male biased. To test this prediction, we synthesized published estimates of population-level sex ratios in freshwater and terrestrial turtles in the United States (165 estimates for 36 species, published 1928-2003). Our analysis suggests that the proportion of males in populations has increased linearly (p = 0.001); the trend in male bias is synchronized with the expansion of the surfaced portion of the road network since 1930; sex ratios became more male biased in states with higher densities of roads; and populations have become more male biased in aquatic species, in which movement differentials between males and females are greatest, and are least biased in semiaquatic and terrestrial species, in which overland movements are more comparable between sexes. Our results suggest an ongoing depletion of breeding females from wild turtle populations over the last century because of many factors, including, and perhaps chiefly, road mortality.
ISSN : 0888-8892 CODEN : CBIOEF
Conservation biology A. 2005, vol. 19, n° 2, pp. 552-556 [5 pages] [bibl. : 32 ref.]
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