Many people are urging us to think of the children when it comes to climate change, and now this warning extended to young birds, as it looks that the climate issue may be causing an increase in albatross divorce rates. When things go difficult, these generally monogamous birds may be more prone to cut and run as changes in the environment put additional stress on their partnership.
When there is disconnect between them and their partner, socially monogamous species resort to divorces like these. This might be due to declining fecundity (the capacity to produce progeny) or sick chicks.
The impact of environmental changes on the birthrate of wild animals and the health of their progeny is where the climate issue comes in. Crocodiles and turtles are examples of reptiles whose eggs hatch underground. In some of the locations most hit by climate change, broods have roasted alive because of rising temperatures.
In a recent report published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers looked at longitudinal data collected since 2003 to see if the climate crisis had an impact on the success rates of black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris).
They discovered that albatross couples were more likely to divorce following breeding failures by evaluating historical trends in reproductive and divorce rates for black-browed albatross. Surprisingly, the environment had a detrimental impact on divorce rates, which increased independent of their past success or failure rate.
Even among females in reproductively successful marriages, albatross divorce rates increased in years with warm sea surface temperature anomalies certain albatross species known for spending up to five years at sea, it is simple to understand how the birds may sense rising temperatures here.
The study authors noted, “For the first time to our knowledge, we record the disruptive impacts of demanding climatic conditions on the breeding processes of a monogamous community, perhaps mediated by greater reproductive costs, changes in phenology, and physiological stress.” “Environmental divorce might thus be an underappreciated consequence of global change.”
The International Union now classifies the black-browed albatross as Least Concern for Conservation of Nature, which paints a favorable image of their population at the time of writing. However, if the climatic catastrophe continues to induce frequent and premature albatross divorce, the survival of these beautiful seabirds may jeopardize.