Close Window
Purpose of Bird 'Divorce' Revealed April 13, 2012
Dunlins with breeding plumage
Females that changed mates between breeding attempts achieved higher reproductive success.
Researchers have discovered why long-lived shorebirds that often mate with the same partner for several seasons actually “divorce” nearly a quarter of the time.

Biologists Lars-Åke Flodin and Donald Blomqvist of Sweden’s University of Gothenburg compared for 15 years the breeding success of male and female dunlins before and after the breakups.

They found that while the divorcing females apparently weren’t influenced by the age or size of their mates, their decisions to move on to another male did improve their breeding success.

The researchers say they were unable to determine any effect of divorce on the males’ reproductive success.

Photo: Len Blumin - Flickr