Albatross divorce rates going up due to climate change


The albatross, known for its long wingspans, is also well known for monogamous relationships. Albatross pairs usually date for several years in their teens before eventually finding their lifelong partner. Once a soulmate is found, the relationship can last for several decades.

A team of researchers from Royal Society of England looked at data collected over 15 years from 2004 describing aspects of 15,500 breeding pairs living in the Falkland Islands focusing most specifically on paired relationships. It was found that In normal years, Just 1% of albatrosses separated after finding their life partner. However, the divorce rates went up to 8% in the years with unusually warm water temperatures during the study period.

University of Lisbon biologist Francesco Ventura who was part of the research team says:

There were years in which more pairs split up, compared to the previous years. We propose this partner-blaming hypothesis – with which a stressed female might feel this physiological stress, and attribute these higher stress levels to the poor performance of the male.

The researchers floated two possible theories - One reason cited is that warming waters were forcing the birds to hunt for longer and fly further for food, leaving the pairs further apart for long periods. Another reason could be that when waters are warmer and in harsher environments, albatross stress hormones go up causing the partners to blame each other.

Recent studies have shown that albatross populations around the world are decreasing with populations of some species declining at rates of 5-10 percent every year.

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