THE ROSE-TINTED FUTURE

THE ROSE-TINTED FUTURE

Categories: Blog, Everglades, Everglades Science Forum, Foundation Science, Science Forum

BY DR. RUSCENA WIEDERHOLT

Baby Alligator

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl,” states a 1918 trade magazine. In the 1940s, it got switched, likely by the cklewhims of clothing manufacturers. Unfortunately for girls, the designated pink ranks as one of our least favorite colors, down there with lowly yellow and orange, while the dainty blue comes out as our favorite. Assigning arbitrary colorschemes aside, another way we’re in uencing gender norms is through rising mercury in thethermometer: climate change. And this isn’t a trend that will switch anytime soon.

Climate change is bringing a warming world, rising seas, stronger hurricanes, and lots of changes to the animal world. Species are shifting towards the poles, farther upslope, and into deeper waters, escaping habitat that is no longeroptimal or suitable. Spring events, like oweringor the arrival of birds, are happening sooner.Surprisingly, the signature of climate change is found in another place: nests. This time climate change is altering the ratio of males to females born, or the sex ratio.

Unless you spent a year of graduate school reading dull articles on primate sex ratios, you’ve probably not thought much about the topic. Sex ratios for many animals tend to be fairly even. In case you’re wondering, for humans, slightly more boys are born than girls (about 5%), but that early advantage eventually peters out because more males die from natural causes, accidents, and injuries (you might want to check out this study published in the British Medical Journal). Besides winning back the better color, this is not such bright news for guys. Sex ratios can be altered by resource levels and social factors, and also the climate…

 

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