We apparently can learn something from the birds and the bees when it comes to human sexuality: new research shows that, just like humans, stressed-out birds are more likely to cheat on their partners. Scientists used to think that the majority of birds were monogamous, but we now know that most "cheat" on their "spouses" and that global warming exacerbates the trend: researchers found that females in unstable climates lay more eggs that lack their spouse's DNA and swap mates more often between breeding.
Researchers also discovered that female birds are more likely to stray if their male spouses aren't bringing enough to the table. "A tern that brings plenty of fish back to the nest one season may not be able to find any fish the next, prompting his mate to seek out a better partner," according to the study. (Hey, did these bird-ladies read my post earlier today on marriage as "luxury"?!?) Some really harsh birds will drop a beau if he's not looking too fly, and formerly-pretty males can lose their shiny plumage if weather conditions are bad.
After reading this, I'm expecting the Real HouseBirds of Orange County to premiere on Bravo sometime soon. However, unlike humans, birds are a lot chiller about adultery. In fact, their species benefits from it! "Mating with multiple partners improves the chances that at least one chick will have the genes to cope with the variable conditions to come," the lead researcher behind the study explained. Which means any upcoming bird-centric reality television shows would lack a certain amount of drama.
Climate Change Increases Mate-Swapping in Birds [Scientific American]