American study: husband’s personality is the main reason for divorce albatross

The albatross is considered one of the most faithful birds in their married life, as the male usually associates with the female throughout his life, and they mate from season to season between the long flights that these birds make on the open sea.

Although previous studies have observed high divorce rates among these birds, these studies have attributed the cause of this phenomenon to climate change and the associated hormonal imbalance in this species of bird, which is known for its close social relationships.

But a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US found that there is another important factor associated with divorce among wandering albatrosses: the spouse’s personality.

The term “divorce” among birds means that a pair separates and one of them joins another bird while the original pair remains in the same flock. This phenomenon is widespread in the bird world, but is considered relatively limited among albatrosses.

In the context of a study published in the scientific journal “Biological Letters”, the research team stated that the chances of albatross separating are greatly influenced by the “boldness of the husband”. The greater the chances of a “divorce”. The team confirms that this study is the first of its kind to look at the relationship between personality and separation in the animal world and birds.

“We used to think that men who were bold and fierce were more likely to divorce because they would be more willing to risk changing partners to improve their chances of reproduction, but it turns out that a shy man is more likely to be separated when they are chased away by a more competitive intruder.”

In statements to the scientific research website Scitech Daily, researcher Ryujiao Sun of the Department of Earth and Climate Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes that this study linking personality and divorce in the albatross community could help scientists predict the future of this species of birds.

“The albatross is an endangered bird, and therefore understanding the influence of personality on their separation is important because it helps researchers predict the consequences of the relationship dynamics between its individuals and then make efforts to protect and preserve them,” explained Sun.

The new study focused on albatrosses living on Possession Island in the southern Indian Ocean, and the researchers focused on specific flocks that had been the subject of previous studies since the 1950s in terms of mating and separation rates over many years. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of albatross groups on this island is the increase in the number of males compared to females, due to the large number of fishing boats in the areas where the females usually feed, resulting in a decrease in the number of individuals. females due to their death as a result of an unfortunate fall into fishermen’s nets.

“What we wanted to know is what triggers divorce and why certain birds break up repeatedly,” says Jenoufrire. “In human life, we see that the pattern of divorce is usually related to personality. It is one of the few species for which we have our own population statistics as well as data on its personal characteristics.”

Researchers were able to determine the personal characteristics of the albatrosses living on Possession Island through an experiment that began in 2008, when researchers measured the degree of boldness or shyness of these birds by monitoring their response or reaction to humans, as the researchers approached albatross nests at a distance of five meters while measuring the bird’s reaction as it approaches the nest, and if the bird shows no response, it gets a score of zero, and is therefore the shyest bird, but in case the bird stands up or flinches or raises its head, it gets the highest score, which means it is the boldest and the bravest.

The researchers concluded that the difference in women’s personality does not have a significant effect on the occurrence of separation, but for men the pattern is clear, as divorce rates increase for the shyest men, while the boldest men are the most able to keep a wife. “Divorce among albatrosses is not uncommon, but we found that the more shy a bird was, the more likely it was to separate from its female,” Jenoufrire said.

The researchers attributed this phenomenon to what ecologists call “forced divorce”, and say that in light of the increasing number of males over females in Albatross communities on Possession Island, competition between males over females is increasing, and therefore male pairs may be exposed to competition. of other men The outsider tries to overthrow the original husband and take his place.

The research team intends to expand the scope of the study to include the influence of individual personality on the evolution of bird flocks in general and the changes that may occur to them. “Now we’re talking about the relationship between personality and divorce at the individual level, but we want to understand the impact of this phenomenon at the level of bird groups in general,” says Sun.

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