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Causes and consequences of divorce in a long-lived socially monogamous bird
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  • Frigg Speelman,
  • Terry Burke,
  • Jan Komdeur,
  • David Richardson,
  • Hannah Dugdale
Frigg Speelman
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences

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Terry Burke
University of Sheffield
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Jan Komdeur
University of Groningen
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David Richardson
University of East Anglia
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Hannah Dugdale
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences
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Abstract

In socially monogamous species, sexual selection not only depends on initial mate choice but also mate switching. To date, studies lack assessment of differences between passive (widowhood) and active (divorce) mate switching, longer-term fitness consequences, and how age masks reproductive costs and benefits of divorce. We investigated causes and long-term consequences of divorce and their age-dependence using longitudinal data on Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis), and experimentally test for short-term effects of mate-switching. Young and old males, but not females, divorced most frequently. Divorce propensity declined with pair bond duration and reproductive success in both sexes, but mate switching did not result in short-term costs. Divorcees did not gain short- or long-term fitness benefits compared to non-divorcees. In fact, female early-life divorcees that lost their breeding position had lower survival than females that never divorced. Divorce is likely a strategy to escape poor-quality partnerships, but not all divorcees benefit from divorcing.
26 Jan 2024Assigned to Editor
26 Jan 2024Submission Checks Completed
26 Jan 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned