Thursday, 22 August 2019

African elephants demonstrate movements that vary in response to ecological change

Date: August 20, 2019
Source: Colorado State University

Wild African elephants, known for their intelligence, show markedly different movements and reactions to the same risks and resources. A new study led by Colorado State University and Save the Elephants reveals the magnitude and complexity of this variation in behavior and how it occurs in space and time, and among individual animals.

The findings, published in the September issue of Ecology Letters, indicate how elephants employ a diverse array of strategies that they adjust based on ecological changes. In particular, poaching causes elephants to switch their movements. The study results indicate that landscape conservation efforts should consider the needs of the different tactics elephants display.

The research team used GPS tracking data from more than 150 individual elephants followed over 17 years in the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve in northern Kenya as part of Save the Elephants' long-term monitoring project. The scientists evaluated individual behavior of elephants to identify how each animal used various food and water resources. They then developed new analytical approaches to understand what drives variations among individual elephant behaviors.

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