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Shy Male Albatross Prefer Divorce Over Confrontation: Study

Fortune favors the bold: Research has shown that shy albatrosses are up to twice as likely to part.

Most albatrosses mate for life, but shy males who avoid confrontation are more likely to be dumped, researchers said Wednesday, adding that it was the first time personality had been shown to predict divorce in a wild animal.

Wandering albatrosses, which crisscross the Southern Hemisphere and at over three meters have the largest wingspan of any bird, are among the most monogamous of animals.

They can live for over 50 years, and although they spend much of that time on the wing, they meet every two years with the same mate to breed.

Divorce is a “super rare event,” occurring about 13 percent of the time, Ruijiao Sun, the lead author of a new study published in the journal Biology Letterstold AFP.

But “if they find that their breeding success with one specific partner is too low, they can look for another,” said the Ph.D. student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US.

To find out how an individual bird’s personality affects their likelihood of divorce, the researchers used a unique database.

Since 1959, scientists have been tracking a colony of wandering albatrosses on Possession Island, in the Crozet Archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We put a stainless steel ring on the leg with a number,” marine biologist and co-author Stephanie Jenouvrier told AFP.

“Because they’re not really scared, we can approach very slowly and we can read the number,” she added, saying it allowed the team to “reconstruct the entire history of these birds.”

Sun said the birds “breed every two years because they take a whole year to raise their chick and it’s super energy consuming, so they take a year-long sabbatical afterward to recover and don’t spend that time together.” “.

Shy guys finish last

For more than a decade, the researchers measured the audacity of nearly 2,000 birds by observing how they react to a human approaching their nest.

They found that shyer male albatrosses were up to twice as likely to divorce than their bolder rivals, but no difference was found in females.

“We’re showing the relationship between personality and divorce in a wild species for the first time, thanks to probably the best dataset in the world,” Sun said.

Wandering albatrosses have “extensive courtship processes,” the study said, as the birds lift their wings, squawk and generally dance around.

Sometimes during the trial, a pushy male illegitimate couple tries to intervene. That’s when the shy men avoid confrontation — and accept a divorce.

However, there are other factors that influence the divorce rate, the researchers said.

There are more male than female albatrosses, as females tend to forage in areas where they are more likely to get tangled up in fishing lines.

The excess of males means females find a new mate quickly, but it can take males more than four years, the study found.

Also, “individuals in long-term relationships are less likely to divorce than those who are new to each other,” Jenouvrier said.

Research last year found that climate change could also cause albatrosses to segregate, as the birds have to travel further to find dwindling numbers of fish.

Divorce is more common among albatross couples with shy men, study shows

More information:
Ruijiao Sun et al, Boldness predicts divorce rates in wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans), Biology Letters (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2022.0301

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Shy Male Albatross Prefer Divorce Over Confrontation: Study (September 2022, Sept. 18) retrieved Sept. 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-shy-male-albatrosses-divorce.html

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