Saturday, March 10, 2012
From the New York Times:
Marriage, infidelity and divorce: These intimate matters are familiar to humans. But oddly enough, birds deal with them as well. Now researchers have found that avian infidelity is more common in severe or uncertain weather.
“Environmental conditions help shape reproductive decisions that seem incredibly personal and idiosyncratic,” said Carlos A. Botero, a biologist at North Carolina State University and first author of a study of mating habits among birds published in the current issue of the journal PloS One.
The sweeping report looks at data on more than 80 bird species, including swallows, chickadees, bluebirds, falcons, gulls and geese.
In birds, infidelity is measured through paternity tests comparing DNA from parents sharing an offspring in the nest. Divorce is measured by how birds pair off. When two birds are paired one year but seek new partners the next, they are considered “divorced.”
Read more here.