Climate change causes more ‘divorce’ in seabirds – Study

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Usually only 1% of albatrosses separate after choosing their life partner, but researchers now say the separation percentage has increased to 8%

The increase in sea temperature due to human (man-made) activities could be the reason for the drastic change in the behavior of this bird. Photo: Pixabay

More black-browed albatrosses – seabirds known for monogamy – are moving apart these days due to the challenge of long-distance travel and reduced food availability, says Science American magazine, attributing the modified behavior to the increase in sea temperature.

“Few animals seem more affectionate than the black-browed albatross. These large seabirds, whose dark eyebrows shade their eyes like mascara, are socially monogamous and often mate for life, ”Science American recently noted.

The study suggests that climate change could be the reason for “marital problems” in albatrosses. Usually, only 1% of albatrosses separate after choosing their life partner, but researchers now say the separation percentage has risen to 8%.

“Monogamy and long-term bonds are very common among albatrosses. It serves a practical purpose; in this, it helps build confidence as the couple alternate between long trips for gathering food and tasks of incubating eggs. Trust is also the hallmark of their relationships, ”Francesco Ventura, University of Lisbon researcher and co-author of the study, told theswaddle.com.

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Ventura said that the rise in sea temperature due to human (man-made) activities could be the reason for the drastic change in the behavior of this bird.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, observed 15,500 breeding pairs in the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean over a 15-year period.

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The research introductory note indicates that individuals (male or female albatrosses) were more likely to divorce after reproductive failures. However, regardless of previous reproductive performance, the likelihood of divorce was directly affected by the environment, increasing years with warm sea surface temperature anomalies – a factor that also increased the likelihood of changing mates in the mate. females in successful relationships.

The study indicates that “environmentally motivated divorce may therefore be an overlooked consequence of global change.”

To better assess this trend of “divorces,” the researchers took into account two environmental factors critical to the life of an albatross: wind speed and sea surface temperature. Warming oceans mean less food. for birds, which means they have to travel further and struggle more to find food. The study concluded that the stress of reduced food availability can lead them to conflict, leading to relationship discord.

A harsher environment has been found to increase stress hormones in albatrosses, which could be another reason more couples are breaking up.

Just like in the case of humans where stress and longer working hours lead to conflict between pairs, albatrosses have also been shown to respond to stress, caused primarily by rapidly changing environmental factors.

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