Washington: In a new study, scientists compared the breeding success of male and female dunlins before and after divorce to explore some causes and consequences of the split.
Dunlins are long-lived shorebirds that often mate with the same partner over several seasons.
In 126 recorded breeding attempts by dunlins, biologists Lars-Ake Flodin and Donald Blomqvist found that 23 percent of the pairs divorced.
Divorcing couples did not differ from non-divorcing couples in nest success in the season preceding divorce, both in terms of total nest failure or the number of eggs in the nest.
Non-divorcing pairs and male divorcees that paired with new partners had similar nest success in consecutive years. However, female divorcees that found new partners doubled their nest success.
The authors of the study concluded that female dunlins divorce to upgrade to a better mate or territory.