BY TONYA BRAMLAGE
Mote Marine Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, Dr. Jake Lasala shared the findings of his research on “Exploring the Mysteries of Sex Ratios in Sea Turtles to Better Predict Their Future” during the final virtual presentation of Coffee with a Scientist on Wednesday, April 14.
Lasala has worked with sea turtles for over a decade. His graduate research focused on identifying robust demographic metrics to complement survey data. Male marine turtles are elusive and much of our understanding of marine turtle populations are based off nest counts by the number of females. Through paternity examination, Lasala used a proxy, breeding sex ratio to quantify the minimum number of males that contribute to these populations.
His current research focus addresses how individuals within populations utilize habitats and adapt to local and global environmental shifts. His research addressed longitudinal changings within and among populations, specifically by exploring which factors and behavior affect population dynamics and how individuals might adapt to a changing climate.
Lasala is looking to expand his research through nesting data and research that will be recorded as female sea turtles begin nesting this season. It is thought that the ratios of males to female hatchlings is directly proportionate to the temperatures that are maintained during the incubation period. Female hatchlings emerge from warmer temperatures and males from cooler temperatures. Lasala is a member of the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program and is looking forward to collaboration projects in the future that will include the findings of specialized thermometers used to monitor nest temperatures.
After a brief discussion about his work, Lasala offered his expertise to all attendees with a casual question and answer conversation.