Review on Bird Divorce Rate

  • Shyam Sundar Bhatia


Pair bonds can end in two different ways: either death of the partner or divorce, where the frequency of divorce varies enormously among bird species, from 0% to 100%. To better understand this variation, we created and analyzed the largest dataset so far, consisting of 158 species and 20 variables that quantify the species’ body size, life history, diet, and other characteristics. Our results suggest that species with a high divorce rate have a high mortality rate, tend to be ornamented and sexually dichromatic, live colonially, and form part-time rather than continuous partnerships. Traits quantifying body size or life history are often nonlinearly related with divorce rate. We also found taxonomic differences in divorce rates. Specifically, Passeriformes have an exceptionally low divorce rate, which, however, can be explained by the generally important determinants of divorce rate: They also have a lower mortality rate, lower degree of ornamentation and coloniality, and more continuous partnerships than members of other orders.