I am Martha Richmond, a Cambridge student working at Caltech in John Eiler’s lab this summer, doing an internship on the SURF program. Here, I am researching whether the paleothermometer technique (using clumped isotopes) can be used for understanding the modern day application of temperature dependent sex determination in reptiles. In order to do this, I will need empty egg shells from hatched reptiles of known sex. These could be anything from leopard geckos to turtles!
Do you happen to have any samples (egg shells of known sex) that I would be able to access? Or perhaps if not, do you have any contacts that may be useful, a breeder perhaps?
This research is hopefully going to help conservation efforts in the future, of which I am extremely passionate about protecting species with the climatic changes we face today. It will be used to see if global warming is reducing the reproductive capacity of the species, generating conservation data.
If you are interested in helping in any way, please do get in touch or leave a contact number because I would love to speak with you. Perhaps we could organise a zoom meeting to discuss further?
Thank you so much,
This is a really interesting project, and I am sure the community would be more than happy to help. However, I do have one question regarding:
The overwhelming majority of eggs you would receive from the reptile community will come from captive bred animals, where the eggs have been incubated in a controlled environment. The small percentage that don’t use incubators still are not leaving their animals open to the elements of the outside world.
Can you explain how captive bred eggs can be of use to you here?
Hey, thank you so much for your reply!
I am only here for the summer, doing a 10 week research project, and so I will be using captive bred samples (achievable in the short time-frame), and here I will be aiming to prove that this particular technique can generate the correct known temperature of incubation (ideal in captive bred animals). If it does, then other members of my group can further the research to extend it to more wild environments. This will only be step one of the goal, but still important- its a start!
Thank you so much for your interest in my project,
Sounds to me like they’re more so trying to gain a better understanding of temperature determined sex, and then using that to draw hypothesis on how global warming is impacting or will be impacting species in the wild, If we continue down the path we’re going. So the eggs from the controlled environment are simply going to help them further the understanding to draw these hypothesis, is my best guess.
Exactly, I am seeing whether the technique itself/ equipment works to study this, and if it does, then its application will be greatly useful in the future!
Interesting project. I’m always in favor of improving our knowledge about the natural world. Small steps can and do lead to big gains in understanding.
Question: how are you asking that these empty eggshells be prepped and shipped?
Indeed, and I commend your efforts!
Please keep us up to date on your progress
Are you only looking for eggs of species that are temperature sexed or eggs of all species of reptiles? I personally don’t have any eggs of temperature sexed babies this year.
Thank you for your interest! The empty egg shells can just be sent in the mail as they are- my lab will pay the shipping fee etc, and if you’d like you can be named as a co-author in the paper at the end! Ideally we would need information about what temperature and conditions the eggs were incubated in, and if possible what sex offspring came out of the eggs (if not the individual eggs, the sex ratio of the clutch). Though if the sexes are unknown, the egg shells would still be useful towards the project to calibrate the equipment etc.
Thank you again for your help and support!
Yes, unfortunately, they do need to be from temperature sexed species. Thank you for your interest though!
Alas, my corn snakes are not temperature sexed. Best of luck to you, @mrichmond. We hope you have success in gaining and sharing new information!
No worries. If you happen to know anyone who would have some samples I could use, it would be amazing for you to pass on my contact details. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone is +44 7495 028 496