Translating natural history into geographic space: a macroecological perspective on the North American Slider, Trachemys scripta (Reptilia, Cryptodira, Emydidae)
Species with temperature-dependent sex determination, such as the Slider, Trachemys scripta, from North America, may be particularly dependent on certain climatic conditions. We hypothesize that climatic conditions that allow successful egg incubation and balanced sex ratios in T. scripta are the major driver for the species' geographic distribution. We tested whether the observed variation in monthly mean temperatures from 377 records throughout the native distribution of T. scripta can be used as a predictor for its geographic range. Our study showed that climatic requirements during egg incubation are apparently the major driver for the species' geographic distribution. Freezing events during winter may limit the species' distribution regionally only. Adaptive strategies such as nest site choice by females, plasticity in nesting phenology or regional variation in embryonic temperature sensitivity exist. However, they may account for only partial compensation of negative effects caused by regional differences in temperature-related parameters or a changing climate.