Climate change may lead to divorce—among albatrosses

Black-browed albatrosses typically mate for life, but climate change may be affecting that. Credit: Ed Dunens

Climate change may be changing the mating behaviors of albatrosses, researchers found. The birds usually mate for life, but the birds are increasingly divorcing. In a study conducted by New Zealand’s Royal Society, researchers looked at 15 years of data for 15,500 breeding pairs of black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) on New Island in the Falklands. They found that in years in which the ocean was warmest, the birds’ divorce rate—the official term the biologists use—doubled. Researchers say fertility decreases in warmer years, but that doesn’t fully explain the divorce rate. “We see there is still something that is left unexplained,” lead author Francesco Ventura, of the University of Lisbon, told the New York Times.

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