Albatrosses are breaking up, despite being documented as largely monogamous creatures – and the fault lies with human-driven climate breakdown.
Researchers say “divorce” rates are increasing, despite previously resting at just one to three percent.
A study published this week outlines how rising sea temperatures are affecting the gentle giants, most of which spend their entire lives with the same single partner.
These lives can stretch to between 50 and 60 years.
Albatross divore rates
The study was published in The Royal Society, titled: Environmental variability directly affects the prevalence of divorce in monogamous albatrosses.
Authors began collecting data all the way back in 2003. They audited black-browed albatrosses on the Falkland Islands throughout breeding seasons.
What researcher and co-author Francesco Ventura revealed to The Guardian was that they were surprised that warmer waters were associated with higher divorce rates.
And this was then a lack of fish was accounted for.
Higher sea temperatures may force birds to hunt for longer periods of time, which the authors say might explain the rates. And this causes the birds to blame their partners.
Venture told the outlet: “We propose this partner-blaming hypothesis – with which a stressed female might feel this physiological stress, and attribute these higher stress levels to a poor performance of the male.”
The species is one in decline, at flows of up to 10 percent every year.
Furthermore, another researcher announced that sinking population numbers are changing mating patterns too.
“We’re getting male-male pairs amongst the birds on Antipodes Island, which we haven’t had before,” Dr. Graeme Elliot of New Zealand’s department of conservation said.
Dr. Elliot says some male partners are choosing other male partners “because they can’t find a female partner.”